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Copyright, 191 5, 
By D. C. Heath & Co. 

I l6 


This opportunity is taken to return special thanks to those 
who have so generously granted permission to reprint copy- 
■ righted essays, — to the Independent for " The New Farming 
Generation" by Charles M. Harger; to The Nation for the 
editorial, "Country Life Problems;" to The Annals of the 
American Academy and to the author, John M. Gillette, for 
" Conditions and Needs of Country Life;" to Harper's Maga- 
^ zine for "The Rural Reformation " by Robert W. Bruere; to 
^ Ginn and Company for " Problems of Rural Social Life " by 
;^ >» Thomas Nixon Carver; to the Macmillan Company for " The 
Way to Better Farming and Better Living" by Sir Horace 
Plunkett, for " The Realm of the Commonplace " by L. H. 
Bailey, and for " The Fatalism of the Multitude " by James 
\\ Bryce; to The Atlantic Monthly and to the author, Myron T. 
\ Herrick, for "The Farmer and Finance;" to G. P. Putnam's 
Sons and to the author, Paul Elmer More, for "A Hermit's 
Notes on Thoreau; " to The Atlantic Monthly and to the author, 
Henry S. Pritchett, for "Science;" to Houghton Mifflin Com- 
4 pany for " Huxley " by Paul Elmer More; to D. C. Heath and 
<;:v Company and to the author, Eugene Davenport, for " Educa- 
tion for Efl&ciency ; " to Science and to the author, W. H. Jordan, 
for " The Function and Efficiency of the Agricultural College; " 
to The University of Chicago Press and to the author, F. J. 
Turner, for "The Significance of the Frontier in American 



Books of selected essays, introducing the student to the 
more fundamental and far-reaching movements of thought of 
our times, are being more and more widely used in Freshman 
work in English. They have been, without exception, of a 
general nature and not specifically adapted to students in 
technical courses. This volume is an attempt to supply a 
collection especially suited to students in Agricultural Colleges. 
There is no reason, however, why students of other colleges 
should not find these essays equally fitted to their needs. 

The editors have been confronted with an unusual oppor- 
tunity. The Agricultural College is forced by circumstances 
to regard itself — even more than other colleges — as an edu- 
cational institution for developing leaders. Its graduates who 
return to practical farming achieve at once, if they are equal 
to it, a position of prominence and influence in the whole life 
of their respective communities. It is of the greatest impor- 
tance, therefore, that these students acquire a definite professional 
outlook characterized by perspective and breadth. The editors 
of this volume have tried to collect such essays as would, all 
together, provide these students with the great ideas and ideals 
necessary for a worthy interpretation of their profession. As 
leaders in country life, the graduates of our Agricultural 
Colleges — in common with the graduates of other colleges — 
should have the power of applying ideas to their life so as to 
reveal its excellencies, its present shortcomings, and its latent 
possibilities. To help supply these ideas is a privilege. 

The essays have been grouped so as to indicate the large 
problems which the agriculturist as a professional man — in 


common with other men — must necessarily confront and study. 
A group of essays championing the various activities of the 
Country Life Movement is placed first, because they are 
designed to lead the student to consider what values ought 
to be achieved in individual and social life in the country. 
Inasmuch as Agriculture is based on science, the next group 
of essays discuss the place of science in human life. A third 
group, presenting each of the various movements of education, 
should help the student to formulate his collegiate ideals and 
to broaden his intellectual perspective. Finally, it is desirable 
that the student should consider with care some of the more 
general problems of American life. 

Essays from opposite points of view have frequently been 
included in order to arouse students to thought and discussion. 
While both range of treatment and the variety of subject 
matter may develop the critical faculties of the student, much 
argumentation is probably of doubtful value. A careful study 
of the other side is more wholesome and more likely to lead to 
a true perspective. Nevertheless, at the end of the discussion, 
each student should have acquired new ideas, which he feels 
sure are true and significant. The study of such essays as this 
volume contains should, therefore, stimulate students of Agri- 
culture, or students of other subjects, to a high intellectual 
attitude toward their profession as well as toward the common 
problems of life. 


Problems of Country Life 

The contribution of mechanical conveniences to farm 
Hfe, conditions and needs of country Hfe, the problems of 
the social center, the country church, the country school, 
the country home, farm credits, the relation of the out-of- 
doors to country life. 


The demand for scientific knowledge in order that man 
may conquer his environment, a review of the last fifty 
years in science, what remains for science to do, the limi- 
tations of science. 


The education in the applied science of Agriculture, 
corrective problems in this education in applied science, 
the education in pure science, the education in humane 

Problems of Life in General 

Influence that the open country has had in developing 
American characteristics, the influence of democracy upon 
the individual, the influence of taste upon the various 
problems of life, the influence of character upon the work 
that a man does. 


Introduction 3d 

I. The New Farming Genera- 
tion Charles M. Harger . i 

n. Country Life Problems . . The Nation .... 4 

III. Conditions and Needs of 

Country Life John M. Gillette . . 7 

IV. The Social Center .... Woodrow Wilson . . 18 
V. The Rural Reformation . Robert W. Bruere . . 30 

VI. Problems of Rural Social 

Life Thomas Nixon Carver 47 

VII. The Way to Better Farm- 
ing and Better Living . Sir Horace Plunketl . 97 
VIII. The Farmer and Finance . Myron T. Herrick . . 109 
IX. The Realm of the Com- 
monplace L. H. Bailey . . . .124 

X. A Hermit's Notes on 

Thoreau Paul Elmer More . .152 

XI. On the Advisableness of Im- 
proving Natural Knowl- 
edge Thomas Henry Huxley 168 

XII. Science (1857-1907) .... Henry S. Pritchett . . 185 

XIII. Conservation of Natural 

Resources Theodore Roosevelt. . 209 

XIV. Huxley Paul Elmer More . .221 

XV. Education for Efficiency . Eugene Davenport . .257 

XVI. The Function and Effi- 
ciency of the Agricultu- 
ral College Whitman H. Jordan . 280 

XVII. A Liberal Education and 

Where to Find It . . . Thomas Henry Huxley 302 


XVIII. Literature and Science . . Matthew Arnold . . 326 
XIX. The Significance of the 
Frontier in American 

History Frederick J. Turner . 349 

XX. The Fatalism of the Mul- 
titude James Bryce .... 390 

XXI. Traffic John Riiskin .... 402 

XXII. The American Scholar . . Ralph Waldo Emerson 426 


The Analysis of Essays 

To master the thoughts of others is the one business of the 
college student. From the moment he enters his first class- 
room with his text-book, until he goes out from his last lecture 
with his completed notes, he is continually trying to assimilate 
the ideas of teachers and of writers. The ability to master 
these thoughts easily and quickly makes him a leader — its 
lack, a dullard. 

The difficulty with most inexperienced students is that they 
read only sentences, and are unable to grasp the thought of 
an entire piece of writing. Their eyes race along the lines 
and they read statement after statement until, at the end 
of fifteen or twenty pages, their minds are so depressed with a 
vast number of unrelated ideas that, when asked to explain 
the meaning of the essay or of the chapter, they become con- 
fused and finally give up in despair. 

The remedy for this sort of confusion is the careful analysis 
of long essays. This may prove a bit tedious at first, but soon 
the student will realize that every careful author proceeds 
according to some definite plan. He will then try to grasp 
this plan and the point that the author is attempting to enforce 
by its use. Gradually he will begin to read for ideas, and 
will come to assimilate thoughts. 

Analysis, then, is not merely an exercise in English — it is 
a training in careful thinking. Whether the student is asked 
to study an article in a magazine or a chapter in a book, he 
will be able to do it the better, the easier, and the quicker for 
having analyzed a number of representative essays. Analysis 
is also of the greatest aid to the student in writing long themes. 


Not until he fully understands, through analysis, the care 
with which trained writers order their thought, is he ready 
to undertake the writing of long themes for himself. Not 
until he has mastered their methods will he find that he is 
able to express his own thoughts clearly and compactly. 

In analyzing an essay, the most important problem is to 
grasp the one particular point which the author wishes to 
impress. If the reader understands this, he is at the very 
heart of the mystery, but if he misses it — regardless of how 
many other minor ideas he may grasp — he is merely groping 
about in uncertainty. The first question, then, to ask is, 
"What point is the author trying to make?" 

In order to find it, the reader should know that the careful 
author hints at this point in his title. In the first few para- 
graphs he attempts to interest the reader in the point and to 
prepare him to take a sympathetic attitude toward it. As 
soon as he has done this, — and he seldom uses more than half 
a dozen paragraphs even in an essay of twenty or thirty pages, 
— he states the point as clearly and concisely as possible. 
In order that the reader may more easily find it, he places 
this statement at the beginning of a paragraph or in a short 
paragraph by itself. Having presented the point, he is in 
duty bound to impress its truth upon the reader. Where it 
is possible, he presents in chronological order the facts which 
will do this; otherwise, he leads the reader from what is 
generally known to be true about the point, to what is not 
generally known. He is sure to arrange these facts in some 
logical order, so that when the reader recognizes what the 
order is, he can more easily hold the entire essay in mind. 
The author guides the reader, in passing from the discussion 
of one of these facts to the next, by the use of transitional 
sentences and brief summaries. Near the end of the essay 
he restates his point and quickly reiterates the main facts 
which he has used to impress its truth. In concluding the essay, 
he gives his final judgment regarding the point. 


Once the reader has found the point of the essay and has 
discovered the main ideas by which its truth is impressed, 
he is ready to ask a second important question, "Does the 
author really make his point?" Many students take it for 
granted that, once a thing gets itself into print, it is neces- 
sarily true. Such an attitude bewilders the mind with a 
mass of undigested and conflicting statements. If the reader 
is ever to master knowledge, he must pause and question each 
new thought that is presented to him. 

How is the reader to answer intelligently whether or not 
the writer has made his point? He may reach his conclusion 
through a series of tests. The first is to ascertain whether the 
author sticks to his point throughout his entire essay. Some- 
times a careless writer aims at nothing in particular, and in this 
case, is sure to shoot wide of the mark. But if he finds that the 
author has the point in mind in his title and has arranged every 
idea — from the first paragraph to the last — so that it con- 
tributes to the point that he is trying to make, the reader may 
feel satisfied with the first test. He should then make a 
second test. After summarizing the main ideas which the 
author has used to impress his point, the reader should examine 
these separately to see that the author has shown each to be 
true. If he finds any idea the truth of which has not been 
estabhshed, he should discard it; he should then take the 
remaining facts and ask, if these are granted true, whether 
it necessarily follows that the main point is true. If he can 
answer these questions in the affirmative, he may be fairly 
certain that the author has not failed to make his point. 

Then there is a third question that the student should ask 
concerning every essay that he reads, "Has the author made 
his point in the most effective manner?" Much slovenly 
thinking and writing grow out of the attitude that it matters 
not in what manner the author proceeds, so long as he makes 
his point. Just as efficiency demands that a man examine 
every detail of his business to see which contribute to his 


profits and which do not, so the careful student must test each 
idea to see whether it helps the author to impress the point 
of his essay. 

To answer whether the writer has made his point in the 
most effective manner, the reader should inquire whether 
the main ideas could be arranged in a different order so as to 
be more logical or more forceful. He should also ask whether 
the most important ideas have been given the most emphatic 
places in the essay — the beginning and the end. He should 
further question whether each idea has been given space pro- 
portional to its importance. If an important idea is hidden 
away in an essay like a "joker" in a law, and if an unimpor- 
tant idea is given ten paragraphs while an important idea 
receives but three, then the reader may rightfully doubt 
whether the author has been as effective as he should be. 
Finally, the reader should examine whether the author has 
expressed himself clearly and compactly, with skill and ease; 
whether he has used the right word in the right place; whether 
his phrases are felicitous; and whether he has so ordered his 
thought as to keep the reader mentally alert and interested. 
If a writer is to be really effective, he must be able to satisfy 
all these tests. 

In analyzing essays, the student will find that the Thought 
Analysis, the Summary, and the Criticism are guides to careful 
work. In order to secure uniform results, the student should 
use the following definite rules: — 

The Thought Analysis 

I. Summarize the point of the entire essay in a single 
complex sentence. 

The principal clause should contain the leading thought; 
the subordinate elements, the limiting thoughts. Matthew 
Arnold's essay, "Literature and Science,"^ may be sum- 
marized as follows : — 

1 See pages 326-348 of this book. 


In spite of the present movement in favor of science, humane letters 
are not in much danger of being thrust out from their leading place in 
education, since they are related to the instinct for self-preservation in 
mankind in a way that science is not. 

2. Summarize — using a single sentence for each — the 
main ideas which the author uses to enforce his point. Unless 
the student proceeds carefully, he will confuse these main ideas 
with subordinate material. An author does not employ, 
usually, more than five main ideas; often he limits himself 
to two or three. The main ideas of Matthew Arnold's essay, 
"Literature and Science," may be summarized as follows: — 

I. Humane letters will, in the long run, keep their leading place in educa- 

tion, since they satisfy the aim of culture — which is to know the 
best that has been thought and said in the world. 

II. Science cannot long maintain the chief place in the education of the 

majority of mankind, since it leaves one important thing out of 
account — the constitution of human nature. 

III. Himiane letters will not long remain neglected because they satisfy 

the need which the vast majority of men feel for relating what they 
have learned and known to the sense which they have in them of 
beauty and of conduct. 

IV. Greek letters will continue to be studied since they satisfy the sense 

of beauty better than do any other letters. 

3. Summarize — using a single sentence for each — the 
subordinate thoughts which the author uses to enforce each 
of his main ideas. Main idea II of Matthew Arnold's essay, 
"Literature and Science," may be summarized as follows: — 

A. The powers which go to the building up of human life are conduct, intel- 

lect and knowledge, beauty, and social life and manners. 

B. Science is in the sphere of intellect and knowledge and does not relate 

itself to the other powers which go to the building up of human life. 

4. Condense, whenever it is consistent with clearness, the 
author's statement of each idea. 

5. Match the statement of coordinate ideas by parallel 


6. Relate the principal ideas to the subordinate by the use 
of connectives. The most common of these are, "in that," 
"that is," "for," "because," "the following." The ten- 
dency to use "therefore," "accordingly," and "hence" will 
be found, upon careful analysis, to be due to the confusion of 
principal with subordinate ideas. 

7. Use the following system of symbols to distinguish 
between coordinate and subordinate ideas: — 



8. Remember that every statement in the Thought Analysis 
must be in the form of a complete sentence. 

Complete Thought Analysis of Matthew Arnold's "Literature 
AND Science" 

The Point of the Essay 

In spite of the present movement in favor of science, humane letters 
are not in much danger of being thrust out from their leading place in 
education, since they are related to the instinct for self-preservation in 
mankind in a way that science is not. 

The Thought A nalysis Proper 

I. Humane letters will, in the long run, keep their leading place in educa- 
tion since they satisfy the aim of culture, which is to know the best 
that has been thought and said in the world, for, 

A. Professor Huxley's objection to this study because it is an 
elegant one, — but slight and ineffectual, — because it is a 
superficial humanism, — the opposite of science or true knowl- 
edge, — is without weight because he confuses humane letters 
with belles lettres. 

B. Knowing Greek and Roman antiquity helps us to know our- 
selves and the world in that it helps us to know who these 
ancient peoples were and what they did in the world; vhat we 
get from them, and what is the value of their bequest. 


II. Science cannot long maintain the chief place in the education of the 
majority of mankind, since it leaves out of account the constitution of 
human nature; that is, 

A. The powers which go to the building up of human life are 
conduct, intellect and knowledge, beauty, and social life and 

B. Science is in the sphere of intellect and knowledge, and does 
not relate itself to the other powers which go to the building 
up of human life. 

III. Humane letters cannot long remain neglected, because they satisfy 
the need which the vast majority of mankind feels for relating what 
they have learned and known to the sense which they have in them of 
beauty and of conduct, because, 

A. Medieval education so deeply engaged men's hearts because 
it so simply, easily, and powerfully related itself to their desire 
for conduct and beauty through the logic of scripture and church. 

B. Since modern science has changed man's view of the universe, 
there is a greater need than ever for humane letters to establish 
a relation between the new conceptions and our instinct for 
beauty and for conduct. 

C. We shall find as a matter of experience, if we know the best 
that has been thought and uttered in the world, that humane 
letters have a fortifying, elevating, quickening, and suggestive 

D. Humane letters call out a man's being at more points and 
make him live more fully than do the natural sciences, for the 
former are always coupled with a knowledge of the great general 
conceptions of modern physical science, while a study of the 
natural sciences brings no knowledge of humane letters. 

IV. Greek letters will always corttinue to be studied, since they satisfy 
the sense of beauty better than do the letters of any other nation, for, 

A. While EngHsh letters have striking ideas and weU-executed 
details, they have not the high symmetry combined with the 
satisfying and delightful effect wliich characterizes Greek 

B. So long as human nature remains what it is, the instinct for 
self-preservation in humanity will bring men back to Greek by 
their wants and aspirations. 


The Summary 

1. Condense the entire essay into a single paragraph. 
Make the point of the essay the topic sentence. 

2. Take up the main ideas in the same order in which the 
author uses them. 

3. Give each main idea space proportional to the author's 
treatment of it. 

4. The summary should contain the author's thought and 
not the student's reaction toward the thought. 

5. The sentences should be fitted together so that they 
read smoothly. 


In spite of the present movement in favor of science, humane letters 
are not in much danger of being thrust out from their leading place in 
education. This is true because they satisfy the aim of culture, which is 
to know the best that has been thought and said in the world, in a way that 
science does not. They relate themselves to the powers which go to the 
building up of himian life — to conduct, to intellect and knowledge, to 
beauty, and to social life and manners — • in a way that science does not. 
It has been through this ability to relate itself to these various powers that 
education in the past has been able to engage men's hearts so deeply. Now 
that science has overturned all the past conceptions of the universe, there 
is a greater need than ever before for humane letters to establish a relation 
between the new conceptions and these instincts. We shall find, if we 
give them a chance, that humane letters will have a fortifying, an elevating, 
and a quickening power upon us. We shall find, too, that they will call 
out our lives at more points and niake us live more than science is able to 
do. We shall therefore find, so long as human nature remains what it is, 
that the instinct for self-preservation, the wants and aspirations in hu- 
manity wiU keep men from substituting the natural sciences for Greek 
and the humane letters of other nations. 

The Criticism 

I. The criticism should answer the following questions: 
I. Has the author made his point? 


A. Has he made every idea in the essay contribute 
to the point? 

B. Has he made a sufi&cient number of ideas 
contribute to the point to make it necessarily 

11. Has the author made his point in the most effective 

A. Has he presented his ideas in such an order that 
the most important ones are given the most 
important places? 

B. Has he given each idea space proportional to 
its importance? 

C. Has he expressed himself clearly, compactly, 
and felicitously? 

2. The criticism should be so written that it makes its 
point and makes it in the most effective manner. 

3. The criticism should contain the student's point of view 
toward the essay. It should be based, not upon narrow 
prejudice, but upon careful analysis of the thought. 

4. Frequently the students should write criticisms of one 
another's long themes. 

James Cloyd Bowman 



Charles M. Harger 

An encouraging note for the future of the farming sections 
comes out of the Middle West where there has been reached 
a stage of development that includes something more than 
the counting of bushels and acres. It is the report that a 
larger number of young men each year are choosing farming 
for their life occupation. The agricultural colleges are expand- 
ing their facilities to accommodate increased attendance and 
the demand for "institutes" which shall instruct the agri- 
cultural communities is insistent. This means that the posi- 
tion of the farmer as a business man is being established, and 
his sons, instead of hurrying to the city to seek another occu- 
pation, are realizing that there is a field for their best endeavor 
on the old homestead — though that term has almost passed 
into the realm of melodrama. 

The new generation of farmers is something of a surprise 
to the student familiar with that of early days. It comes with 
something of an awakening to hear the man in overalls, milk 
pail or pitchfork in hand, talk in clear English of "balanced 
nutrition," "economy of production," and "scientific breed- 
ing." He discusses the quality of soil ingredients and moral- 
izes on the benefits of crop rotation. He has learned farming 
from books, which was a method that our fathers scorned, 

^ Copyright. Reprinted by permission from The Independent for Feb- 
ruary 3, 1910. 


but the fact that he is able to produce more bushels to the acre 
and more profit from the year's work is earning him respect. 
He stands for a new era on the farm and in its management. 

Not alone in the better management of the fields is the new 
generation of farmers making advancement. That is but a 
part of the accomplishment of an agricultural education. 
The fact that the young men have been out in the world and 
have learned how others do things gives them ideas in accom- 
plishment of farm duties with less exertion. The bane of 
the farmer's life has been that he was compelled to rise with 
the sun and work until long after its setting. He found it 
difficult to obtain farm help because the days were so long 
and the relaxation so limited. The new generation is changing 
this, partly through the more systematic management of 
farm work and more by the introduction of new methods. 

Milking cows is at best a wearisome task, and the farm boy 
who spent two or three hours of early morning and of late 
evening at that task, looks back upon it as a nightmare in 
his home life. Nowadays the educated young farmer equips 
the dairy with milking machines which enables him to milk 
faster than three expert men could do it, and have no labor 
except that of overseeing the process. Following the plow 
day after day wears out the most willing youth. Even the 
sulky-plow did not entirely remove the burden, for the tired 
horses always called for sympathy. The modern farmer 
places in the field a gasoline engine to which is attached a half 
dozen plows, and the plowboy becomes a field chauffeur, 
getting through the task with little weariness and much satis- 
faction. Water pipes through the barns and water pressure 
through the house means comfort to the farmer and his family, 
motor cars diminish distance and give pleasure, amply paid 
for by the increase of health and economy of time. 

These and many other things that relieve the farmer's 
life from dreariness have come through the enterprise and 
advancement of the new generation. Where the boy has been 


sent to college and then allowed to carry into effect the lessons 
he learned there is little for commissions and economists to 
do — the farmer's problem is taking care of itself. 

Not much can be expected of the older generation. The 
man who has farmed in the old way for forty years is going to 
keep on in his accustomed path. In no profession or avoca- 
tion is there more unyielding adherence to habit and tradition 
than on the farm. If this be doubted, visit a rural community 
in one of the older States and note the processes to which older 
farmers yet cling. 

In contrast inspect a farm in the Middle West where the 
spirit of progress and advancement is manifest. The modern 
machinery, the new methods and the larger grasp of the possi- 
bilities in making farming a business speak for themselves. 
The attitude of the worker toward his task takes on a new 
aspect, he considers his land as so much equipment, the 
factory against which are placed fixed charges and from which 
are to be derived legitimate profits. This viewpoint marks 
the real reason for the modern farmer's success, for out of it 
is evolved the planning and calculation that result in a steady 
measure of prosperity, the source of a farmer's happiness. 

Given a conviction that he can obtain from the soil a regular 
income and do it with no greater exertion than is required to 
succeed in any other business, the attraction of the farm for 
the young man will be ample — what he has objected to has 
been the intense labor and uncertainty of results. 

This is exactly the object of the education given by the 
agricultural schools, and as they turn out their hundreds of 
educated farmer youth there should be a change in the farming 
community commensurate with the infusion of scientific 
methods and a more intelligent comprehension of possibilities. 
This must come from the young generation, and the father 
will do well to give his sons opportunity to test their theories 
and to put into practice their new ideas, instead of insisting 
that old ways be followed simply because they are old. 


Ex-Secretary Garfield, in an address at the Young Men's 
Christian Association dinner last week, dealt with the failing 
attractions of country life, especially life on the farm. As a 
member of the Country Life Commission, he referred to recent 
investigations and said that they pointed to increasing "stag- 
nation and decline" in rural regions, upon which the cities 
still exercise their vast power of action. President Taft 
touched upon the same subject in one of his recent speeches 
in the South. Admitting the evils, he was, characteristically, 
more sanguine than Mr. Garfield. In the President's opinion, 
country life is in the way of being made so fascinating that it 
may soon reassert its old place in our civilization, and check 
the seemingly irresistible drift to the city. "The suburban 
electric railroads," said Mr. Taft, "the telephone, the rural 
postal delivery, inventions, and cooperative arrangements 
are reaching such a point that it will soon become, I trust, 
more comfortable to live in the country than in the city." 

There is truth in this view, but there is also fallacy. Increas- 
ing conveniences do, indeed, make country life more tolerable 
to those who feel themselves condemned to it, but is there 
any evidence that these new and extending facilities operate 
to hold on the farm the young men who are burning to get 
away from it? The telephone in the remote countryside is 
unquestionably a great blessing. With a service made rela- 
tively cheap by the use of party-lines, it brings the distant 
farmhouse into instant touch with physician and shopkeeper 
and postmaster. It also makes possible a daily interchange 

* Copyright. Reprinted by permission. An editorial from The Nation 
for November i8, 1909. 


of neighborhood gossip and a frequent meeting of friends 
which are, in many sections, giving a wholly new cast to the 
social side of life in the country. All this must be recognized 
thankfully, yet the doubt remains whether such civilizing 
inventions do or can keep down that persistent and growing 
distaste for life on the farm of which ex-Secretary Garfield 
spoke so regretfully. Because the boy in a New Hampshire 
farmhouse can telephone to the nearest village, is he the less 
likely to slip away to Boston to get a job as motorman? We 
know of no statistics on the point, yet the fact that farms 
continue to be abandoned, and that the city keeps on pulling 
to itself country-bred youth, would seem to argue that neither 
telephone nor trolley nor the daily newspaper left in the mail- 
box by the roadside will suddenly make thousands of men 
and women fall in love with the country which they now 

As a matter of fact, it may be plausibly argued that the very 
introduction in the country of a modicum of urban comforts 
and conveniences merely whets the longing for the city. Sir 
Horace Plunkett, who for twenty years has been a close student 
of agricultural conditions in Ireland and in the United States, 
is distinctly of the mind that the thing actually works in that 
way. The trolley car passing once an hour simply renders 
the appeal of subway and elevated and the two-minute head- 
way all the stronger. The farm telephone is very good, but 
how if it puts into the youth's head a still more vivid conception 
of the charm of a great city knit together in the enjoyment 
of every modern facility? What possible chance has the 
newspaper which reaches the farm in the evening, or a day 
late, of competing in excitement with the city editions appear- 
ing clamorously all day long and far into the night? Sir 
Horace Plunkett soberly concludes that the trend to the cities 
has actually been heightened, not diminished, by giving the 
country a fuller taste of urban pleasures and conveniences. 
Having got a small part, the country folk desire the whole, 


more than ever. Careful inquiry should be directed to ascer- 
taining whether this is really the fact. 

For so deep a social disturbance as the steady forsaking 
of country life by those who can escape it, remedies that go 
deep are obviously necessary. And they will have to be felt 
by the masses rather than presented by the rural "uplifters." 
Causes both economic and social must get powerfully in opera- 
tion before we shall see the beginnings of the desired effect. 
The argument from material well-being seems already to be 
slowly making headway. Historically, the flight from the 
country to the city was at first a part of the industrial revo- 
lution of the last century. The great factories, the more 
numerous jobs, were in urban communities, and farm workers, 
with those whose house-industries had been destroyed by 
machinery and specialization, went to the towns to find work. 
It may be that a reaction will set in, also for economic reasons. 
The struggle for existence may drive people back to the land. 
With farming made easier and more scientific and profitable, 
the terrible pressure in cities may soon begin to extrude to 
country districts many who must seek a new environment 
and opportunity if they are to maintain themselves above 
want or beggary. Until some such solid advantages, or social 
necessities, can be made the rural set-off to the artificial charm 
of the city, it will be in vain to hope for a repopulation of 
deserted hillsides. To reinforce the economic argument by 
every appeal on the score of health and sentiment is, of course, 
an obvious duty. Nothing that can be done to improve 
country schools, or to promote human intercourse among 
scattered farmers, should be omitted. And it might well be 
hoped that a change of mental attitude could be brought 
about so that men and women would again associate their 
happiest experiences with country sights and sounds, and 
have such remembered thrills of pleasure as stirred De Quincey 
when he recalled his joy, as a child, at the blossoming of the 
crocuses in his father's garden. 


John M. Gillette 

There seems to be a consensus of opinion that there is 
something wrong with the country. Articles discussing the 
subject are myriad. Did the agricultural population view 
itself as urban writers appear to view it, it would doubtless 
consider itself as a fit subject for treatment at the old-time 
"mourner's bench." That certain portions of our rural in- 
habitants are interested in the "improvement of rural matters" 
is evident from the appearance of discussions of some of those 
matters at various kinds of farmers' meetings. But that the 
agriculturalists view the situation with alarm is by no means 
evident. In order to help clear up the situation, it may be 
well to attempt to determine just what is the rural problem. 
It may be well to show first what it is not. 

I. Negative Aspects of the Problem 

I. It would be a mistake to suppose that the problem 
consists in rural deterioration or arises because of rural degen- 
eration. There has taken place in the United States no such 
thing as general rural deterioration. A slight acquaintance 
with the history of our country will afford ample evidence 
that there has been general advance almost all along the line 
in country life. As compared with pre-national times the 
farm population is better housed, better clothed, better fed, 
better educated and informed, is more productive, produces 
what it does produce more easily, has better implements 
and agencies with which to work, and the farm women have 

^ Copyright. Reprinted by permission from The Annals of the Ameri- 
can Academy, Vol. xl, March, 191 2, pp. 3-1 1. 


been emancipated from much of the arduous labor which fell 
to their lot in the period of household industry. 

Indeed one does not have to recur to so remote a period 
as that to find striking contrasts. Many of our aged contem- 
poraries who were reared on the farm well remember the back- 
ward conditions which obtained in matters of production, 
marketing, transportation, obtaining necessaries of life in the 
home, methods of living, and education. Respect for truth 
impels us to recognize a great advance in the general condi- 
tions of life of country populations. It is well to remember 
that the "rural problem" is the product of intelligence, 
directed towards a province which has hitherto been somewhat 
remote from comparison and criticism. We have evolved 
certain ideals of life with the growth of cities and civilization, 
have brought them to bear on country life with the result 
that the latter has been found backward in some respects 
as measured by those ideals. The few instances of rural 
arrested development or of deterioration are a minimum in 
total country life as compared with the extensive slums of 
the cities. 

2. It is also a mistake to assume, as is so frequently done, 
that the problem lies in the direction of rural depopulation. 
It is commonly taken for granted that the vast growth of 
urban centers has taken place at the almost entire expense 
of rural districts. There is a movement to the cities of rural 
populations. It may have its serious aspects. But it is not 
the problem preeminently. An analysis of the census reports 
and those of the Commissioner General of Immigration gives 
these results. City growth ensues from four factors, namely, 
incorporation, natural increase, migration from the country, 
and immigration. The first is inconsequential. Natural 
increase accounts for about 20 per cent of city increase, immi- 
gration, for from 65 to 70 per cent, and rural migration for 
the remainder, say from 10 to 15 per cent. 

Much of the seeming loss of population to the cities arises 


as a result of movement of farmers away from their old loca- 
tions to newer agricultural regions. Practically all of the older 
states have been heavy losers from this condition. Iowa 
lost population during the last decade because the value of 
land was high and farmers sold to others and purchased lands 
in the Dakotas and Canada, helping to raise the land values 
in those regions enormously. 

Nor must it be expected that the movement to cities which 
actually takes place is likely to be prevented in great measure. 
The forces at work in developing civilization and which must 
be considered basic and inevitable are largely accountable 
for the movement. The matter may be simply stated. One 
farmer produces sustenance for the support of many besides 
himself. Double his productive capacity and his produce 
supports double the original number. Carry this principle 
into operation generally and it will be seen that non-agri- 
cultural communities must be depended on to absorb the 
released population. Hence cities must continue to make 
large advances in population as compared with the country. 

3. Nor is the rural problem one of improving production 
chiefly, for the nation as a whole, although there are sections 
such as much of the South where improved agriculture must 
take place before other essential things may be added unto 
them. The motive of this statement is not one of minimiz- 
ing the importance of inducing a more scientific and pro- 
ductive agriculture. The economic aspects of farming are 
exceedingly important. Increased production should mean 
an increased profit and this in turn should mean higher stand- 
ards of living, better education of children, and improvement 
in methods of living. Farmers no doubt get too little out of 
their soil. Much greater results might be secured also by 
placing agriculture on a business basis, by regarding it as a 
capitalistic enterprise and measuring its business success by 
the extent of profits. Organization of the various factors 
entering into the business so as to secure the combination 


which would yield the largest returns, and keeping a record 
of all phases of the business so as to have exact knowledge of 
cause and effect, should prove advantageous. A more equi- 
table marketing system by means of which the agricultural 
producers secure a larger share of the consumer's price than 
they do at present is desirable and constitutes a very con- 
siderable problem in itself. 

While some portions of the nation are backward economi- 
cally in agriculture, it is not true as a whole even as compared 
with many other businesses. Our farmers are as progressive 
in their business as a class as are the mass of retail merchants, 
or as the mass of small factory men. Further there is nothing 
critical in the present method of agricultural production. 
We are faced by no famine. Our exportations of farm produce 
are still large and promise to continue so for some time to 
come. Farmers are not going into bankruptcy because of 
poor methods. They are prosperous as a class. Admit, as 
we must, that it would be far better if methods which did not 
pauperize the soil were employed, yet this is not the funda- 
mental difficulty in farm life. 

II. Positive Aspects of the Problem 

I. The very center and essence of the rural problem is the 
necessity of securing the establishment of a new point of 
view, a wider and more vital outlook on the part of the resi- 
dents of the rural regions. At first consideration this may 
seem rather a bizarre statement of the problem, one that is 
remote from the pressing needs of those regions. But granting 
for a moment that the statement is valid, let us recall in what 
the value of a point of view consists. 

The fact of dynamogenesis emphasizes the truth that every 
idea seeks to realize itself in action, to get itself carried out by 
means of the physical organism. There is a tremendously 
significant relation between ideas and activities. Ideas, in 
the evolutionary sense, are not for playing mental checkers 


with but to direct activities and conduct. Philosophers may 
speculate about them or with them, but for the mass of man- 
kind they are entertained in order to be put into execution. 
And the more powerful the ideas are the more true this is, 
that is the more immediate is the execution. The ideas which 
are bathed in a glow of feeling are the most executive. They 
carry themselves out most speedily. 

Ideals of life and the action are among the more dynamic 
forms of ideas. They are the ones which appeal to men as the 
most desirable to actualize, are most longed for, have the 
largest element of feeling. But an ideal is only a point of 
view. An ideal as to a certain line of action expresses the 
individual's viewpoint relative to that section of human 
activities. My ideal for the farmer is expressed in the state- 
ment of my point of view for the farmer. 

When talking of viewpoints we are speaking of the most 
fundamental factor in a given situation. A wholesome view- 
point makes a wholesome life. A changed viewpoint changes 
the life. Obtain the power to shape the point of view of the 
succeeding generation and you can lead it where you will. 
Hence, whatever is backward in country life is due to its 
outlook, and we cannot hope for very great improvement until 
the outlook of rural inhabitants relative to the place and 
significance of farm life is transformed. 

2. There are two vital points on which a new outlook 
must be developed among agriculturalists. If this can be 
secured all the other problems may be associated with it as 
incidents of attainment. 

(a) One of these points is the matter of living. A new 
outlook on life, its meaning, its possibilities of enjoyment 
and satisfaction, and as to the means which are fit to secure 
those ends is intensely needed. Life to the average farmer is 
devoid of the larger and more attractive elements. His life 
is a round of eating, working, sleeping, saving, economizing, 
living meagerly, recognizing only the bare necessaries, skimp- 


ing along with inconveniences, especially in the home, which 
is uncalled for considering his wealth. The wealthy farmer 
is one of the most helpless of men in the matter of finding 
satisfaction. This appears whenever he moves into the city 
to live. He still practices the stern economies, lives in houses 
without modern conveniences, keeps the old rag carpets, 
attends no theaters, goes to no lectures unless they are free, 
and acts as a man in a strange world or as one with a starved 
soul. The enjoyment side of life is lacking. His cultural and 
esthetic soul is in a state of suspended animation. 

Such facts as these in the lives of the multitude of rich 
residents of rural districts make it apparent that the funda- 
mental problem is not one of economics but of transforming 
farmers so that they look at life in a different manner. The 
appreciative qualities of life must be built up. They need to 
have developed the sentiment that the fullest and most 
successful life is the one which obtains the greatest number 
of satisfied wants in passing. Under this transformation the 
country will build good houses, comfortable in the modern 
sense, having the conveniences which lighten the lives of the 
indoor workers, and the equipment which renders the place 
sanitary and healthful. It will put in machinery everywhere 
possible to do the hard work, to reduce labor, to eliminate 
chores, as well as to make production more profitable. It 
will beautify the grounds, improve the roads for travel pur- 
poses, and look to nature as a source of inspiration. 

(b) The other vital point is to secure a social outlook. 
The farmer has been burdened with an individualism which 
has been extreme and in a measure disastrous. Under the 
system of education under which he has been schooled it is 
perfectly natural that this should be so. The social side of 
life has never been opened to him. That he was a part 
of human society, that he worked under inexorable laws of 
markets and politics, that a community life may be made a 
means of satisfaction and training were not self-evident and 


axiomatic propositions. In fact he has no conception of such 
truths nor had his immature teachers in the "little old red 
schoolhouse." His universe was bounded by physical nature 
in the shape of sunshine, rain and frost, and in a very small 
measure by his family and one or two neighbors. He and 
nature accounted for what he obtained. There were no 
human interlopers, save at critical times. There was no social 
accountability that was very persistent and apparent. 

As a consequence he never caught sight of the fact that the 
farmers are a great social class and have a worth and dignity 
as such. It has wealth of enormous proportions, approximat- 
ing one-fourth of the nation's wealth; numbers of still greater 
proportions, practically one-half of the nation's population; 
characteristics and interests which are common to its members 
and which differentiate it from all other social classes. Its 
work is worthy, its position secure, its future promising. But 
in commanding power and influence in the direction of national 
affairs this really great social class is lacking and manifests its 
extreme weakness. Only by its vote at election times does 
it demonstrate its existence. It has not enough power to 
protect itself from the exploitation of other classes of a preda- 
tory nature. It has been victimized by the politicians, the 
trusts, the railways, and now mercilessly by the middle-men. 
What it needs is to develop a class-consciousness which is 
self-respecting, potent for organization purposes relative to 
government and marketing, and which operates to secure a 
greater regard for its rights and possibilities. 

On another side the farmer's social outlook has been want- 
ing. In rural communities the community, sociability, 
associational side of life has lain fallow. There has been a 
reign of social stagnation and social poverty. Without social 
intercourse the life of the average person would be considered 
empty notwithstanding the largeness of the farm, the heavy 
yield of produce, the quality of live stock, and the extent of 
the bank account. In social matters, even to a greater degree 


than in those of finding satisfaction in Hving, the country is 
far behind the corresponding grades of city life. 

In one sense this dearth is due to a lack of intellectual 
stimulus and ferment. Reading has not been cultivated as a 
source of pleasure and a means of larger information. Social 
intercourse of a larger general nature is likely to be empty 
where an intellectual circulating medium is absent. A grasp 
and discussion of the more important social matters awaits 
the development of information. 

Associations of a recreative and entertainment sort are 
little appreciated in the country. Men of the farms have not 
discovered the play life. Its possibilities have not been 
opened to them. Organized games for the children and recrea- 
tion for the adults are among the greatest desiderata of rural 
communities. Opportunities for these will present themselves 
as soon as their appreciation is developed. 

Deficiencies of social contact and co-operative stimulus 
are apparent. Cities abound in means and agencies to satisfy 
these ends. Isolation has seemed to insulate farmers from 
each other. It is an obstacle whose gravity must be realized 
although its prohibitive strength is likely to be overrated. 
Organizations for bringing about community co-operative 
activities for both economic and sociability purposes are 
highly desirable and necessary and are coming into existence 
as fast as the appreciation of their worth is discovered by the 
farming community. 

3. There are certain fundamentals which are incident to 
the realization of this needed point of view. They must be 
obtained before the larger and better outlook can be fully 
and permanently rooted as a part of the working capital of 
rural society. 

(a) Leadership of a residential and effective kind is neces- 
sary to enable the country to work out its destiny along the 
lines indicated above. A trained resident leadership is 
largely wanting in agricultural neighborhoods. Young men 


and women who go to higher institutions of learning seldom 
settle in the country. Even the students from agricultural 
colleges must be included in this statement. The country is 
being sapped of its ability of the trained sort by the towns 
and cities. It has plenty of natural ability left but it is not 
developed into a working leadership. The country is there- 
fore forced to look to other sources outside itself for initiative 
and organizing ability which is required. So long as this is 
the case it must suffer accordingly. Every class and com- 
munity m.ust ultimately expect to depend on its own intelli- 
gence and the sympathetic devotion of its own able managers. 
Even fairly intelligent communities are handicapped without 

(b) The reorganization of rural education is a necessary 
step toward the realization of a changed viewpoint and a 
larger rural life. The country school is one of the few things 
that has remained practically unchanged during the last 
quarter of a century. While farms have grown, farming has 
been improved, houses and barns have become larger and 
better, the country church has been better housed and manned, 
the old schoolhouse has remained as it was, and the course of 
study has become little more adjusted to the needs of the 
times. To meet the demands of the situation some important 
modifications must be made in rural schools. 

First, they must be depended on to furnish the resident 
leadership which is required. Higher institutions of learning 
cannot do this because of the leakages noted above, and 
because they cannot touch the life of every boy and girl 
directly in necessary ways. A leadership must be informed on 
the things which are close to farm life; matters of agriculture, 
marketing, organization for protective purposes as well as for 
constructive objects, the worth and value of sociability func- 
tions of the upbuilding sort, and the improvement of home 
life. In order to understand and appreciate those things it 
must have a training and culture in them during the education 


period. Every one must be so informed and skilled that he 
or she may rise to take a leading part in the affairs of the 
community if the ability is present. This means that the 
schools of the region must contain and teach the matters 
which are crucial and intrinsic to farm life. Agriculture, 
domestic economy, rural sociology, are some of the necessary 
and pressing subjects which must be taught. 

Second, the consolidation of schools constitutes another 
necessary step to realize the object denoted. The single- 
room school-house is entirely inadequate to meet the situation. 
It cannot supply the grading, the able teaching force, the 
equipment and room for carrying on work of a vocational 
nature, the numbers of pupils needed to carry on organized 
play, the differentiated housing and facilities demanded for 
the sociability, recreational, entertainment, and cultural 
activities of the adults as organized into a social center, and 
other important neighborhood functions. Moreover, the 
consolidated school, while providing for all of the above 
essential needs, can extend its course of study so as to include 
high-school work as a further qualification of that leadership 
and to appreciate intelligence which the country neigh- 
borhood demands. The latter would afford time for the 
gradual and completer inculcation of the larger and finer 
ideals of life, and teach the things which will make the life 
of the average man and woman something more than a mere 

4. A closing remark may well be devoted to the proper point 
of view with which the rural problem is to be regarded. A 
very large part of the emphasis in the discussions of farm life 
has been laid on the necessity of improving it in order to keep 
the boys and girls from drifting to the cities. The assumption 
has been that the country needs them and that city attractions 
established in the country would be effective in holding them 
there. However effective this procedure might prove to ac- 
complish what is urged, and its effectiveness may well be 


doubted, it does not appear to be the highest motive which 
may be furnished. 

A more just view regards the improvement of farm life as a 
procedure which of right belongs to that great multitude of 
good people who will always be rural residents. They have a 
humanity in common with the residents of the cities. They 
have needs of life and work which they ought to realize if 
they can only obtain a vision of their possibility and worth. 
They are the heirs of the products which the myriads of the 
makers of civilization have created and conserved and should 
of right come into the enjoyment of them. Country popula- 
tions have a right in their own stead to enjoy all that life offers, 
even if they do not contemplate leaving the soil for the city. 
The great problem is to discover a way by which their outlook 
on life and society may be transformed into one which appre- 
ciates the worth of realizing the greatest satisfactions and 
possibilities which may come to them as rural citizens of the 
great republic. 


WooDROW Wilson 

I DO not feel that I have deserved the honor of standing 
here upon this occasion to make what has been courteously 
called the principal address, because five months ago I did 
not know anything about this movement. I have taken no 
active part in it, and I am not going to assume, as those who 
have preceded me have assumed, that you know what the 
movement is. I want, if for no other purpose than to clarify 
my own thinking, to state as briefly as possible what the 
movement is. 

The object of the movement is to make the schoolhouse the 
civic center of the community, at any rate in such commu- 
nities as are supplied with no other place of common resort. 

Ready for Use — The Means oj Concerting Common Life 

It is obvious that the schoolhouse is in most communities 
used only during certain hours of the day, those hours when 
the rest of the community is busily engaged in bread-winning 
work. It occurred to the gentlemen who started this move- 
ment that inasmuch as the schoolhouses belonged to the 
community it was perfectly legitimate that the community 
should use them for its own entertainment and schooling 
when the young people were not occupying them. And that, 
therefore, it would be a good idea to have there all sorts of 
gatherings for social purposes, for purposes of entertainment, 

1 An address delivered before the First National Conference on Civic 
and Social Center Development, at Madison, Wis., October 25, 1911. 


for purposes of conference, for any legitimate thing that 
might bring neighbors and friends together in the school- 
houses. That, I understand it, in its simplest terms is the 
civic-center movement — that the schoolhouses might be 
made a place of meeting — in short, where by meeting each 
other the people of a community might know each other, and 
by knowing each other might concert a common life, a common 

Spontaneous Development 

The study of the civic center is the study of the spontaneous 
life of communities. What you do is to open the schoolhouse 
and light it in the evening and say: "Here is a place where 
you are welcome to come and do anything that it occurs to 
you to do." 

And the interesting thing about this movement is that a 
great many things have occurred to people to do in the school- 
house, things social, things educational, things political — 
for one of the reasons why politics took on a new complexion 
in the city in which this movement originated was that the 
people who could go into the schoolhouses at night knew what 
was going on in that city and insisted upon talking about it, 
and the minute they began talking about it many things 
became impossible, for there are scores of things that must 
be put a stop to in our politics that will stop the moment they 
are talked of where men will listen. The treatment for bad 
politics is exactly the modern treatment for tuberculosis — 
it is exposure to the open air. 

Now, you have to begin at the root of the matter in order 
to understand what it is you intend to serve by this move- 
ment. You intend to serve the life of communities, the life 
that is there, the life that you cannot create, the life to which 
you can only give release and opportunity; and wherein does 
that life consist? That is the question that interests mc. 
There can be no life in a community so long as its parts are 


segregated and separated. It is just as if you separated the 
organs of the human body and then expected them to produce 
life. You must open wide the channels of sympathy and 
communication between them, you must make channels for 
the tides of life; if you clog them anywhere, if you stop them 
anywhere, why then the processes of disease set in, which are 
the processes of misunderstanding, which are the disconnec- 
tions between the spiritual impulses of different sections of 

Common Center Essential to Community Life 

The very definition of community is a body of men who 
have things in common; who are conscious that they have 
things in common; who judge those common things from a 
single point of view, namely, the point of view of general 
interest. Such a thing as a community is unthinkable, 
therefore, unless you have close communication; there must 
be a vital interrelationship of parts, there must be a fusion, 
there must be a coordination, there must be a free intercourse, 
there must be such a contact as will constitute union itself 
before you will have the true course of the wholesome blood 
throughout the body. 

Therefore, when you analyze some of our communities you 
will see just how necessary it is to get their parts together. 
Take some of our great cities for example. Do you not realize 
by common gossip even the absolute disconnection of what 
we call their residential sections from the rest of the city? 
Isn't it singular that while human beings live all over a city, 
we pick out a part, a place where there are luxurious and 
well-appointed houses, and call that the residential section? 
As if nobody else lived anywhere in that city! That is the 
place where the most disconnected part and in some instances 
the most useless part of the community lives. There men do 
not know their next-door neighbors; there men do not want 
to know their next-door neighbors; there is no bond of sym- 


pathy; there is no bond of knowledge or common acquaint- 

I am not speaking of these things to impeach a class, for I 
know of no just way in which to impeach a class. 

It is necessary that such portions of the community should 
be linked with the other portions; it is necessary that simple 
means should be found by which by an interchange of points 
of view we may get together, for the whole process of modern 
life, the whole process of modern politics, is a process by which 
we must exclude misunderstandings, exclude hostilities, ex- 
clude deadly rivalries, make men understand other men's 
interests, bring all men into common counsel, and so discover 
what is the common interest. 

That is the problem of modern life which is so specialized 
that it is almost devitalized, so disconnected that the tides 
of life will not flow. 

Means to the Unity of Communities 

My interest in this movement, as it has been described to 
me, has been touched with enthusiasm because I see in it a 
channel for the restoration of the unity of communities. 
Because I am told that things have already happened which 
bear promise of this very thing. 

I was told what is said to be a typical story of a very fine 
lady, a woman of very fine natural parts, but very fastidious, 
whose automobile happened to be stalled one night in front 
of an open schoolhouse where a meeting was going on over 
which her seamstress was presiding. She was induced by some 
acquaintances of hers whom she saw going into the building 
to go in, and was at first filled with disdain; she didn't like 
the looks of some of the people; there was too much mixture 
of the sort she didn't care to associate with — an employee 
of her own was presiding — but she was obliged to stay a 
little while; it was the most comfortable place to stay while 
her automobile was repaired; and before she could get away 


she had been touched with the generous contagion of the 
place. Here were people of all sorts talking about things 
that were interesting, that revealed to her things that she had 
never dreamed of before with regard to the vital common 
interests of persons whom she had always thought unlike 
herself, so that the community of the human heart was re- 
vealed to her, the singleness of human life. 

Worth Any Efort to Promote 

Now, if this thing does that, it is worth any effort to promote 
it. If it will do that, it is the means by which we shall create 
communities. And nothing else will produce liberty. You 
cannot have liberty where men do not want the same liberty, 
you cannot have it where they are not in sympathy with one 
another, you cannot have it where they do not understand 
one another, you cannot have it when they are not seeking 
common things by common means; you simply cannot have 
it. We must study the means by which these things are 

In the first place, don't you see that you produce commu- 
nities by creating common feeling? I know that a great 
emphasis is put upon the mind in our day, and as a university 
man I should perhaps not challenge the supremacy of the 
intellect; but I have never been convinced that mind was 
really monarch in our day, or in any day that I have yet 
read of; or, if it is monarch, it is one of the modern monarchs 
that rules and reigns but does not govern. 

Common Feeling Essential to Free Government 

WTiat really controls our action is feeling. We are governed 
by the passions, and the most that we can manage by all our 
social and political endeavors is that the handsome passions 
shall be in the majority — the passion of sympathy, the pas- 
sion of justice, the passion of fair dealing, the passion of 


unselfishness (if it may be elevated into a passion). If you 
can once see that a working majority is obtained for the 
handsome passions, for the feelings that draw us together 
rather than for the feelings that separate us, then you have 
laid the foundation of a community and a free government; 
and, therefore, if you can do nothing else in the community 
center than draw men together so that they will have common 
feeling, you will have set forward the cause of civilization and 
the cause of human freedom. 

As a basis of the coming feeling you must have a mutual 
comprehension. The fundamental truth in modern life, as I 
analyze it, is a profound ignorance. I am not one of those 
who challenge the promoters of special interests on the ground 
that they are malevolent, that they are bad men; I challenge 
their leadership on the ground that they are ignorant men; 
that when you have absorbed yourself in a particular business 
through half your life you have no other point of view than 
the point of view of that business, and that, therefore, you are 
disqualified by ignorance from giving counsel as to the com- 
mon interests. 

A witty English writer once said: "If you chain a man's 
head to a ledger and knock oflf something from his wages 
every time he stops adding up, you can't expect him to have 
enlightened views about the antipodes." Simply, if you 
immerse a man in a given undertaking, no matter how big 
that undertaking is, and keep him immersed for half a life- 
time, you can't expect him to see any horizon, you can't 
expect him to see human life steadily or see it whole. 

Means to Liberal Education 

I once made this statement, that a university was intended 
to make young ])e()plc just as unlike their fathers as possible. 
By which I do not mean anything disrespectful to their 
fathers, but merely this, by the time a man is old enough to 
have children in college, his point of view is apt to have 


become so specialized that they would better be taken away 
from him and put in a place where their views of life will be 
regeneralized and they will be disconnected from the family 
and connected with the world. That I understand to be 
the function of education, of the liberal education. 

Now, a kind of liberal education must underlie every 
wholesome political and social process, the kind of liberal 
education which connects a man's feeling and his comprehen- 
sion with the general run of mankind, which disconnects him 
from the special interests and marries his thought to the 
common interests of great communities and of great cities 
and of great States and of great nations, and, if possible, with 
that brotherhood of man that transcends the boundaries of 
nations themselves. 

Those are the horizons, to my mind, of this social center 
movement, that they are going to unite the feelings and clarify 
the comprehension of communities, of bodies of men who draw 
together in conference. 

Conference Always Modifies and Improves Thought 

I would like to ask if this is not the experience of every 
person here who has ever acted in any conference of any 
kind. Did you ever go out of a conference with exactly the 
same views with which you went in? If you did, I am sorry 
for you; you must be thought-tight. For my part I can 
testify that I never carried a scheme into a conference without 
having it profoundly modified by the criticism of the other 
men in the conference and without recognizing when I came 
out that the product of the common council bestowed upon 
it was very much superior to any private thought that might 
have been used for its development. The processes of attri- 
tion, the contributions to consensus of minds, the compromises 
of thought create those general movements which are the 
streams of tendency and the streams of development. 


Will Make Easier Solution of Great Problems 

And so it seems to me that what is going to be produced 
by this movement — not all at once, by slow and tedious 
stages, no doubt, but nevertheless very certainly in the end 
— is in the first place a release of common forces now un- 
discovered, now somewhere banked up, and now somewhere 
unavailable, the removal of barriers to the common under- 
standing, the opening of mind to mind, the clarification of 
the air and the release in that clarified air of forces that can 
live in it, and just so certainly as you release those forces you 
make easier the fundamental problem of modern society, 
which is the problem of accommodating the various interests 
in modern society to one another. 

Adjustment Necessary to Liberty 

I used to teach my classes in the university that liberty 
was a matter of adjustment, and I was accustomed to illustrate 
it in this way: When you have perfectly assembled the parts 
of a great steam engine, for example, then when it runs, you 
say that it runs free; that means that the adjustment is so 
perfect that the friction is reduced to a minimum, doesn't 
it? And the minute you twist any part out of alignment, 
the minute you lose adjustment, then there is a buckling up 
and the whole thing is rigid and useless. Now, to my mind, 
that is the image of human liberty; the individual is free in 
porportion to his perfect accommodation to the whole, or, 
to put it the other way, in proportion to the perfect adjust-, 
ment of the whole to his life and interests. 

Take another illustration. You are sailing a boat. When 
do you say that she is running free, when you have thrown 
her up into the wind? No; not at all. Every stick and 
stitch in her shivers, and you say she is in irons. Nature 
has grasped her and says, "You cannot go that way." But 
let her fall off, let the sheets fill, and see her run like a bird 


skimming the waters. Why is she free? Because she has 
adjusted herself to the great force of nature that is brewed 
with the breath of the wind. She is free in proportion as 
she is adjusted, as she is obedient, and so men are free in 
society in proportion as their interests are accommodated to 
one another, and that is the problem of liberty. 

Analysis Accomplished — now Assembled 

Liberty as now expressed is unsatisfactory in this country 
and in other countries because there has not been a satis- 
factory adjustment, and you cannot readjust the parts until 
you analyze them. Very well, we have analyzed them. 
Now, this movement is intended to contribute to an effort to 
assemble them, bring them together, let them look one another 
in the face, let them reckon with one another, and then they 
will cooperate, and not before. 

You cannot bring adjustment into play until you have 
got the consent of the parts to act together, and then, when 
you have got the adjustment, when you have discovered and 
released those forces and they have accommodated themselves 
to each other, you have that control which is the sovereignty 
of the people. 

There is no sovereignty of the people if the several sections 
of the people be at loggerheads with one another. Sover- 
eignty comes with cooperation; sovereignty comes with 
mutual protection; sovereignty comes with. the quick pulses 
of sympathy; sovereignty comes by a common impulse. 

You say, and all men say, that great political changes are 
impending in this country. Why do you say so? Because 
everywhere you go you find men expressing the same judg- 
ment, alive to the same circumstances, determined to solve 
the problems by acting together, no matter what older bonds 
they may break, no matter what former prepossessions they 
may throw off, determined to get together and do the thing. 


Enlightened Control in Place of Management 

And so you know that changes are impending because what 
was a body of scattered sentiment is now becoming a con- 
centrated force, and so with sympathy and understanding 
comes control, for, in place of this control of enlightened and 
sovereign opinions, we have had in the field of politics, as 
elsewhere, the reign of management, and management is 
compounded of these two things, secrecy plus concentration. 

You cannot manage a nation, you cannot manage the 
people of a State, you cannot manage a great population, 
you can manage only some central force. What you do, 
therefore, if you want to manage in politics or anywhere else, 
is to choose a great single force or single group of forces and 
then find some man or men sagacious and secretive enough to 
manage the business without being discovered. And that has 
been done for a generation in the United States. 

Now, the schoolhouse, among other things, is going to break 
that up. Is it not significant that this thing is being erected 
upon the foundation originally laid in America, where we 
saw from the first that the schoolhouse and the church were 
to be the pillars of the RepubHc? Is it not significant that, 
as if by instinct, we return to those sources of liberty undefiled 
which we find in the common meeting place — in the place 
owned by everybody, in the place where nobody can be 
excluded, in the place to which everybody comes as by right? 

And so what we are doing is simply to open what was shut, 
to let the light come in upon places that were dark, to sub- 
stitute for locked doors open doors, for it does not make any 
difference how many or how few come in provided anybody 
who chooses may come in. So, as soon as you have established 
that principle, you have openings, and these doors are open 
as if they were the floodgates of life. 


Faith in People Justified 

I do not wonder that men are exhibiting an increased con- 
fidence in the judgments of the people, because wherever you 
give the people a chance, such as this movement has given 
them in the schoolhouse, they avail themselves of it. This 
is not a false people, this is not a people guided by blind 
impulses, this is a people who want to think, who want to 
think right, whose feelings are based upon justice, whose 
instincts are for fairness and for the light. 

So what I see in this movement is a recovery of the con- 
structive and creative genius of the American people, because 
the American people as a people are so far different from 
others in being able to produce new things, to create new 
things out of old. 

This Movement Fundamentally American 

I have often thought that we overlook the fact that the 
real sources of strength in the community come from the 
bottom. Do you find society renewing itself from the top? 
Don't you find society renewing itself from the ranks of 
unknown men? Do you look to the leading families to go 
on leading you? Do you look to the ranks of the men already 
established in authority to contribute sons to lead the next 
generation? They may, sometimes they do, but you can't 
count on them; and what you are constantly depending on 
is the rise out of the ranks of unknown men, the discovery of 
men whom you had passed by, the sudden disclosure of 
capacity you had not dreamed of, the emergence of somebody 
from some place of which you had thought the least, of some 
man unanointed from on high, to do the thing that the genera- 
tion calls for. Who would have looked to see Lincoln save a 
nation? Who that knew Lincoln when he was a lad and a 
youth and a young man — but all the while there was spring- 
ing up in him as if he were connected with the very soil itself, 


the sap of a nation, the vision of a great people, a sympathy 
so ingrained and intimate with the common run of men that 
he was Hke the people impersonated, sublimated, touched 
with genius. And it is to such sources that we must always 

No man can calculate the courses of genius, no man can 
foretell the leadership of nations. And so we must see to it 
that the bottom is left open, we must see to it that the soil of 
the common feeling of the common consciousness is always 
fertile and unclogged, for there can be no fruit unless the 
roots touch the rich sources of life. 

And it seems to me that the schoolhouses dotted here, there, 
and everywhere, over the great expanse of this Nation, will 
some day prove to be the roots of that great tree of liberty 
which shall spread for the sustenance and protection of all 

Robert W. Bruere 

We are in the midst of a rural revolution. The pre-emption 
of the "area available for agricultural purposes" which, 
according to the Federal census, was practically complete at the 
beginning of the new century, has set in motion forces that 
are swiftly transforming the spirit of American farm life and 
the character of the economic and social institutions in the 
open country. 

For more than a hundred years — approximately from the 
time when the embargo of 1807 established the "nursing of 
infant industries" as our dominant national policy — the 
industrial revolution, with its teeming commercial and manu- 
facturing centers, has shaped the course of American civili- 
zation. Notwithstanding the fact that throughout the 
nineteenth century the rural population greatly outnumbered 
the population of the cities, its influence upon national affairs 
remained definitely secondary. So long as there were millions 
of acres available for agricultural settlement, the power of 
the rural majority was subject to ready control. Whenever 
the farmers attempted to organize, as they did through the 
Grange in the sixties and seventies, and again through the 
Populist uprising of the early nineties, their ranks were broken 
and scattered by the opening of vast reserves of arable land. 
Effective group action is impossible without stability, an 
economic surplus, and leisure; cheap lands meant cheap prices 
for agricultural products; so long as "Uncle Sam was rich 
enough to give us each a farm," the rural majority could be 

1 Copyright. Reprinted by permission from Harper's Magazine, No- 
vember, 1914. 


held at an economic, political, and social disadvantage. But 
the final pre-emption of the "area" available for agricultural 
purposes has done for the American farmer what powder and 
the crossbow did for the English yeomen at Crecy. The cheap 
lands of the Argentine Republic and of Little Russia will not 
suffice to break their ranks again. 

The sign of the new sovereignty is on every one's lips. 
Not within living memory, certainly not in times of peace, 
has the high cost of living had such universal currency. 
Economists tell us that the cause of high prices is to be found 
in the abnormal increase of the world's gold supply, in the 
"brigandage of the middleman," in the growth of luxury, 
the aggressions of labor, and all manner of disturbances in 
the industrial world. But there is yet another explanation 
which has not received the consideration its reasonableness 
demands. In great agricultural states like Illinois and Iowa 
less land is under cultivation to-day than fourteen years ago; 
many important counties in states like Ohio are producing 
less food than they did before the Civil War. During the last 
census period population in the United States increased 21 
per cent, but agricultural production increased 10 per cent 
only. To meet an increase of 21 per cent in the number of 
mouths to be fed, the production of wheat increased only 3.8 
per cent, of orchard fruits 1.8 per cent, while the production 
of corn actually fell off by 4.3 per cent. The expert of the 
census of agriculture, in commenting upon the situation, 

We have reached a stage in the history of this country when 
farmers in average years do not produce much more of the raw 
materials used for food, forage, and clothing than is needed within 
the country. In poor years the production may not in future equal 
the demands of the consumers. 

And while production has remained stationary, the market 
value of farm products has practically doubled; while the 
cities are filled with wailing over high prices, the farmers are 


jubilant! Within little more than a decade, the pre-emption 
of the "area available for agricultural purposes" has shifted 
the balance of economic control from the cities to the owners 
of our agricultural lands. 

And everywhere the farmers, exhilarated by their new 
sense of power, are in revolt against the traditional barrenness 
of agricultural life. Throughout the dominance of the in- 
dustrial revolution and the era of territorial expansion, they 
have had to look on from the family circle while the cities sat 
at the banquet-table of civilization. But their position no 
longer compels them to listen passively to the pastoral flights 
of uncalloused after-dinner speakers. They are in a position 
to demand what they want. They want homes as comforta- 
ble and as well equipped as the best homes in the cities; they 
want schools that conform to the best modern standards; 
they want the best facilities for having "a good time"; they 
want music and art and the drama: they want their full share 
in all the amenities of twentieth-century civilization. And 
if they cannot get what they want in the country, they will 
turn from agricultural production to speculation in land over 
which they now have a monopolistic control, and move to 
the cities to get it. All along the line they are in revolt, and 
already they have reason to wonder at the swiftness with 
which their rebellion is humbling the cities. 

For it is from the cities quite as much as from the farmers 
themselves that the cry for scientific agriculture, soil conser- 
vation, and socialization of rural life is coming. It is city 
capital that is sending agricultural experts by the hundreds 
to the tradition-bound fields of the farmers. It is city capital 
that is promoting country-life conferences with their increas- 
ing emphasis upon rural credits and economic cooperation. 
The cities are quite as keen as the farmers for the establish- 
ment of more intimate relations by the extension of the rural 
mail and the parcels post. And most significant of all, it is 
principally city money which, through the country-life depart- 


ments of the Protestant denominations especially, and the 
"county work" of the Young Men's and the Young Women's 
Christian Associations, is supporting the men and women 
who are effecting a reformation in the country church com- 
parable in scope and depth to the great Reformation of Wyclif 
and Hus and Luther. 

The church has always loomed larger in country than in 
city life. The city church has been overshadowed by the 
high-schools and universities, the newspapers and social 
settlements, the theaters, scientific museums, the ostentatious 
public and private philanthropies. But the pipes to which 
the city crowds dance have echoed but faintly in the open 
country. Throughout the turmoil of the nineteenth century 
the church remained the dominant social, intellectual, and 
spiritual institution of rural life. 

But within recent years the country church has seen its 
easy ascendancy threatened by the rivalry of the same secular 
forces before which the city church has for more than a century 
retreated as before a conquering enemy. The development 
of the rural public-school system, the spreading influence of 
the state universities and colleges, the "extension work" of 
the state and federal departments of agriculture, the traveling 
libraries, the automobile, and the motion-picture theaters 
have brought it face to face with a crisis with which the city 
church failed to cope. And for a time it showed a disposition 
to oppose the demands for a fuller life arising out of the rural 
revolution, as the city church had opposed the "growth of 
luxury among the common people" arising out of the develop- 
ment of invention and the machine. "The weakness of the 
city church," says Professor Fagnani, of the Union Theological 
Seminary, "has been and is that with it religion is religion 
and not life." And similarly the country church, instead of 
losing its life in the new movement in order that so it might 
find it, began by railing against the "Godlessness of the 
rising generation," when it should have sought the cause of 


its waning prestige in the changing wants of the people and 
its own failure to satisfy them. But this blind policy was 
proving its own penalty; the countryside was being strewn 
with the wreckage of abandoned church buildings. And the 
injury was not to the church alone. As the central institu- 
tion of country life, the failure of the church to adjust itself 
to the new conditions was depriving the nation of its most 
powerful instrument for turning the rural revolution from 
selfish into patriotic channels. Fortunately, before the 
damage had become irreparable, the country church de- 
veloped a new leadership, which, largely financed by city 
capital, is reforming its methods in statesman-like conformity 
with the spirit of the times. 

The essence of the new reformation is the definite abandon- 
ment of authoritarian dogmatism and the candid adoption 
of the open-minded methods of modern science. In the 
language of churchmen, they are seeking the will of God, not 
exclusively in the threshed straw of medieval creeds and 
scholastic speculations, but primarily in the scientifically 
ascertained facts of contemporary realities. The best de- 
scription of the new policy is contained in the series of rural 
surveys made during the past four years by the Department 
of Church and Country Life of the Presbyterian Church, 
undel" the general supervision of the Rev. Warren H. 

The Presbyterian Church in the United States [says the intro- 
duction to the survey of three rural counties in northern Missouri] 
has been ministering to country parishes for more than a century. 
It has sought farmers through forests and across deserts. It has 
built innumerable little white churches on the country cross-roads 
for them to worship in. It has baptized the farmer's children, 
taught them, married and buried them. It has striven to save the 
farmer's soul — striven earnestly, valiantly, sometimes heroically. 

But never until within this year has it made a thorough scien- 
tific study of the country community it has attempted to serve. It 
has done everything in its power to pave the farmer's road to the 


Celestial City, but it has paid little attention to his road to the 
nearest village. 

It has given great sums to alleviate poverty, but given little 
thought to the causes that make for poverty — the American sys- 
tem of farm tenantry, the robbing of the soil, and the stripping the 
hillside of its trees. 

It has pictured the beauties of the heavenly mansions and taken 
no account of the buildings in which men and women must spend 
their lives here and now. 

Hereafter it is going to know something about the communities it 
attempts to serve — of what stuff they are made, v/hat their needs 
and aspirations. It will take an interest in the every-day affairs of 
the farmer — his crops and stock, his buildings and machinery, his 
lodge and recreation. 

The spires of the little cross-road church will still point to the skies, 
but its foot-stone will lie on the commonplace work of the day. 

This declaration of principle is as radical a departure from 
the prevailing policy of the church in our generation as the 
declaration of Luther that "a Christian man is a most free 
lord of all things and subject to no one" was from the autoc- 
racy of the medieval hierarchy. It marks the end, so far as 
the followers of the new reformation are concerned, of the 
long war between science and the church. And wherever it 
has been adopted as a guide to action, in poor lands and rich 
alike, the church is experiencing a renascence of constructive 
leadership in both material and spiritual things. 

In the course of a recent spring, I traveled by buggy through 
the poverty-stricken fastnesses of the north Virginia moun- 
tains. The dogwood and the crimson Judas trees were in 
bloom. The upward-winding road was fragrant with sprout- 
ing fern, its banks mottled with violets, yellow sorrel bells, 
and bloodroot blossoms — soft enamel lilies lustrous against 
the silvery moss. No sharp corners, no checker-board thor- 
oughfares. But the houses I passed in my long climb through 
the Blue Ridge were, for all their isolation, curiously like the 
shambling tenements I knew so well in New York, East 
Boston, South Chicago, and North St. Louis. Women in 


drab calicoes stared dumbly from ungarnished kitchen door- 
ways. Tousled children fled shyly down the road and hid in 
thickets and behind tumbling stone fences. Men with rusty 
guns went by, looking oddly like the men in the urban "bread 
line," except for a vagrant alertness to the stir of wild life in 
the brush. 

Through Simmon's Gap, along the boulder-strewn bed of a 
mountain stream, over the hump of a crouching hill, down a 
steep path broken by gullies and jutting rock, across a plowed 
field and a half-stumped clearing, I came at last to the Blue 
Ridge Industrial School and the home of the Rev. George P. 
Mayo. From the veranda of his house we looked across a 
valley dotted with orchards, fields of young grain, and soft, 
green pastures. Beyond the barns and the brook and the 
meadow to the north, two little white churches confronted 
each other from opposite sides of a road, hke pugilists stripped 
for a fight. 

They were the last survivors of generations of sectarian 
warfare; all the rest had gone down in the struggle. And 
while the denominations had fought one another, moonshine 
had flourished in the mountains, children had been born out 
of wedlock, boys and girls had grown up innocently dissolute. 
For all their revival meetings, the "needle's eye" had remained 
as an open door compared with the mountaineer's chances of 
entering heaven here or hereafter. They had regularly broken 
the law to make moonshine whisky because they wanted life, 
and whisky was the only way they knew to a living. Forty 
per cent of them had remained illiterate because whisky 
created neither the desire nor the necessary economic surplus 
for schools. They had made a virtue of dirt and disease and 
immorality because the only semblance of spiritual exaltation 
they had ever experienced came from the momentary thrills 
of vice. They were criminals for the same reason that the 
gangs in our city slums are criminals. And the churches, in 
the intervals of mutual recrimination, preached a flat and 


irrelevant goodness, ignoring the causes of the general poverty 
under the cloud of which they and the people perished. 

This was the situation into which Mr. Mayo brought the 
policy of the new reformation. 

"I began," he told me, "with the conviction that the 
day of doctrinal controversy is over; that the time has 
come for the church to give an accounting of her steward- 

The day before, I had come through Shifflet's Hollow, the 
rugged pocket in the mountains where Mr. Mayo held his 
first charge. I had seen the Settlement House, the base from 
which during eight years he had served a territory stretching 
for twenty miles along the eastern slope of the Greene County 
range. Adjoining the Settlement House, I had seen the 
small, well-equipped hospital where scores of mountain men, 
women, and children had had their first experience of decent 
care in sickness. Across the road, I had seen the first public 
school ever opened in the region — built with church money, 
but operated in cooperation with the state Department of 
Education. And high up the mountain, on a small plot of 
relatively smooth soil, I had seen the demonstration acres 
through which Mr. Mayo had experimentally learned the 
agricultural possibilities of the mountains. 

The outgrowth of those scientific tests of the capacity of 
both the soil and the people is the Blue Ridge Industrial 
School, with its demonstration farm of more than five hundred 
acres; its sawmill and dairy; its dormitories, class-rooms, 
workshops, and kitchens; its orchards and fields for every 
grain and grass and fruit that scientific study of the soils and 
climate has shown to be susceptible of profitable cultivation. 
Possibly the most striking thing about that splendid church 
enterprise is the absence of a separate church building. That 
has been left to the last, because Mr. Mayo has informed the 
everyday life at the school with the deepest' though most 
unobtrusive religious spirit, and because he believes that the 


only sound basis for a vital church to-day is the spontaneous 
religious emotion of a happy and prosperous people. 

During the afternoon I saw fine mountain girls baking 
bread and studying poultry, mountain boys harrowing after 
the plow and mending tools in the smithy. And morning 
and evening I heard them singing together and cooperating 
in work and in play — mountain girls who, under the old 
dispensation, might have been mothers at fourteen, whether 
married or not; and mountain boys who would have become 
outlaws in the barren solitude of the hills. 

And through the children Mr. Mayo is trying to spread the 
spirit of cooperation and mutual aid throughout the neigh- 
borhood. As yet he is not advocating church unity or federa- 
tion, because this, he fears, would only serve to rekindle the 
old habit of interdenominational strife. "But," he said to 
me, "if we are not yet ready to get together inside the church, 
we can and must get together outside the church as human 
beings and citizens." And so, while administering his school, 
he is taking the lead in organizing the people into community 
associations for the spread of the telephone — the harbinger 
of the new neighborliness; for the improvement of the roads, 
the study of markets, cooperation in production, buying, and 
selling. Every one in Bacon's Hollow — the popular name for 
the valley — is gradually coming to see that where blue grass 
grows wild, and apples will ripen, and corn and wheat will 
yield abundantly, ignorance and moonshine and crime have 
no providential sanction; that physical vigor and prosperity 
and happiness are not at variance with the will of God. And 
the people are gathering in unprecedented number to Mr. 
Mayo's support, because through him the church has humbled 
itself, to be reborn in the spirit of science and to win its claim 
to leadership by the concrete quality of its daily human 

The Blue Ridge Industrial School is only one of a chain of 
church enterprises — largely financed with city capital — 


that is being stretched through the southern mountains to 
meet the reproach: "The poor ye have always with you." 
They are acting as a sort of spiritual middlemen to hitch up 
the farmers' demand for more life with the cities' demand for 
more food. With the mountaineers the primary problem is 
the elimination of poverty, and this the church is helping 
them to meet by the development of a community social and 
educational, and an economic programme based upon scien- 
tifically ascertained facts. 

And the same method is proving effective in the fat lands 
of the Middle West, though there the problem is of an entirely 
different character. The people of the Corn-Belt are not 
crying feebly for enough to eat and to wear, but in powerful, 
full-fed voices are demanding the higher satisfactions of life 
— recreation and knowledge and art — and they are demand- 
ing these things with the vigor of men who will and do climb 
into their automobiles and speed away to the town if the 
mountain of civilization will not come to them. The city- 
ward migration, the growth of tenant farming, land specula- 
tion, and absentee landlordism is not only undermining the 
ancient authority of the country church, but is responsible for 
the menace to the national food supply. 

My train, swinging up into Iowa from the South, found 
itself on a limitless level. It was May, and the corn, which 
was later to shoot up into green rockets and burst into tassels 
of showering gold, was just being planted. Everywhere men 
and horses dragged slowly back and forth, pulverizing the rich 
brown bareness or turning under the eager weeds — hungry 
tramps to be beaten back again and again that the coming 
corn might be fed. The wheat was well up — great blankets 
of vivid green, so thick, so lush, that every blade shouldered 
its neighbor and the roots stole from one another. The fields 
lying fallow in pasturage were alive with soft, wabbly-kneed 
calves and the twinkling ears of tiny mule-colts; and hundreds 
upon hundreds of fat little red or black shoats scampered 


away as the train rushed by. Here in the Corn Belt the 
prayer for daily bread, which is just being raised in the Blue 
Ridge, has been abundantly fulfilled. 

"It is the richest land on God's green earth," said a grizzled, 
red-cheeked farmer leaning affably over the back of my seat. 
"Rain or shine, the corn crop ain't never failed in loway. 
Prices been good? Wal, yes, tol'ble; but I don't bother so 
very much about prices. Where does my money come from? 
That's my land over yonder where you see that maple wind- 
break. I go out to see my man that I got working it about 
every month or so. Forty year ago when I come out here 
you could get all of that land you might want for seven dollars 
an acre. It's worth from twenty to thirty times that now. 
I owned a thousand acres once, but I sold off all but a section 
and moved up to town. My man he works it on half-shares. 
But I ain't worrying much about prices; all I got to do is 
just to sit tight!" 

Sitting tight — especially after moving to town — has 
come to be an immensely popular occupation in the Corn 
Belt. The farmers who have what money they want take 
the shortest cut to the satisfactions of life, secure in the 
knowledge that there are no more vast "areas available for 
agricultural purposes" to break the market for their land. 
And real-estate speculation and farming on shares have such 
obvious advantages over the rough work of plowing and sow- 
ing and reaping! Speculation is rife throughout the Corn 
Belt and production is at a standstill. In Iowa, for example, 
there were 11,578 fewer farms in 19 10 than in 1900, and 
406,353 fewer acres under cultivation. And whereas a short 
while ago practically all of the farms were worked by their 
owners, from two-fifths to a half, and in some sections seventy 
per cent of the farms are worked by tenants, who, having 
a one-year lease, are compelled to rob the soil to get a living. 
The effects of this revolution, both upon the church and the 
nation, are described as follows in the survey of forty-four 


rural communities in Illinois made by the Presbyterian 
Church : 

Only a few years ago this region was entirely farmed by the 
owners themselves, but within the past few years many of the 
owners have moved to the cities and towns or sold their farms to 
speculators, until now fifty-three per cent of the farms are run by 
tenants. These tenants have generally a one-year lease; their chance 
of purchasing land is very small, and their interest in the commu- 
nity is therefore at the lowest point. 

In a community where the churches are struggling hard to sur- 
vive, a farmer said that fifteen years ago his land was producing 
ninety bushels of corn per acre; now it is producing forty-eight. 
Then it was worth seventy-five dollars an acre; now it is worth 
one hundred and ninety doUars an acre. 

The speculative price of land kills the country church. The 
middle-IUinois landlord is not a friend of the improvement of the 
country community. In many cases he is a mere absentee, drawing 
rent from the farm he owns, and caring nothing save for the in- 
creasing of his rent with the rising price of land. These landlords 
should be called to account by the churches. 

Owners of land in a country where the soil is producing less every 
year, where the churches and schools are deteriorating, where the 
human stock is being exploited and an American peasantry pro- 
duced, are responsible men. Mere evangelism, with talks about 
saving of souls and promise of heavenly life, is not enough; in such a 
situation the unlimited promise of heavenly salvation is false to the 

In self-defense, the Illinois country churches will be forced in the 
future to promote the conservation of the soil. If they do not save 
the soil, they will lose the right to save the soul. 

There is a refreshing courage about this indictment of the 
past failure of the church by a churchman. For it must be 
remembered that the deterioration of rural life here described 
took place while the church was the dominant institution in 
the open country. The development of absentee landlordism 
is in large measure due to the neglect of the church to enter 
into the spirit of contemporary realities and to take the 
leadership in creating social and intellectual conditions in the 
country that would have held the owners upon the land. 


During the early stages of the rural revolution, the church, 
instead of setting an example of cooperation and broadly 
humanitarian patriotism, followed the precedent of the city 
church in concentrating its energies upon a short-sighted 
effort to preserve its institutional integrity. Instead of 
making all other considerations secondary to the social, 
economic, and spiritual advancement of the rural communities, 
it fostered a petulant selfishness by the evil example of its 
own inter-denominational strife. The Presbyterian survey of 
three typical agricultural counties in Indiana reveals forty- 
one denominations quarreling for the possession of a popula- 
tion which in 1900 numbered eighty thousand souls, but which 
in 1910 had dropped to seventy-six thousand. The records 
of 232 churches for the past ten years show 38.6 per cent 
growing, 13.6 per cent standing still, and 47.8 per cent losing 
ground or dead. 

"It is true," says the author of the survey, "that many of 
these churches need to die," because many of them were built 
in the first instance to despite denominational rivals, not to 
serve either man or God. But many of them continue to 
fail because they place their entire emphasis upon stupid 
denominational bigotry. As the survey puts it: 

Denominational strife shows itself in various ways. At its worst 
it may be seen in the competition of two or more churches for con- 
verts and in the jealousy of one church over the success of others in 
revival meetings. Three such churches were found in a village of 
seven hundred. The Methodists were accused of proselyting. The 
United Brethren were censured for building a church when it was 
neither needed nor wanted. Both had some grievances against the 
Disciples. One of the ministers, speaking of the success of his work, 
said: "I have taken in 113 members in my three churches this year, 
and 35 of them have come from other denominations." A certain 
inhabitant of the village ^ no doubt an ardent church member — 
said that "if the Methodist church were on fire, and if he should 
happen to pass by, and if there were a bucket of water standing 
near, he would kick the bucket over! " 


Is there reason to wonder that of ninety-one churches in 
one of these counties twenty-five have not a single young 
man under twenty-one years of age in their congregations? 
Such conduct on the part of an institution which should have 
been the leader in the socialization of rural morality — a 
course upon which its own life and the healthy prosperity of 
the rural community depended — has tended to aggravate 
the worst evils attending the changing rural order. The 
Indiana survey thus summarizes the matter: 

The influence of the church on the community is individualistic; 
that is, its chief care is for individual souls. Few churches have as 
their mission the salvation of the community. The saving of men 
for heaven is much emphasized — with what results the incident of 
the bucket of water illustrates. The saving of men for Indiana re- 
ceives little emphasis. The saving of Indiana for men receives from 
the churches practically no emphasis at all. 

But a church which can so clearly diagnose its own malady 
is not likely to miss a cure. In the Salt River parish in 
Missouri, the churches of all denominations have united in a 
plan of reorganization; they are abandoning superfluous 
churches and are consolidating weak churches of one denomi- 
nation with weak churches of another. Certain churches in 
Pennsylvania are preaching the gospel of the agricultural 
colleges, realizing that their own future is bound up with 
better farming. In the middle of the Corn Belt I visited a 
little Baptist church, which has been able to organize the 
social and intellectual life of the open country about it so that 
it draws members from the nearest towns instead of losing to 
them, and has actually succeeded in stemming the rising tide 
of tenant farming. The people there are prosperous, the land 
is rich; but six years ago seven out of ten farms on the road 
on which the church stands changed hands within a year, and 
the church fell into decay. Then a new minister was sent to 
them who had in him the spirit of the new reformation. He 
began by gathering the people of the neighborhood into a 


singing-club, a non-sectarian form of amusement which the 
nearest town could not match. Through this singing-club 
the church developed literary and industrial branches, held 
picnics, established an orchestra, carried through a fair, 
supported a lecture course, and organized an inter-township 
school contest and annual athletic meet. These were new 
forms of religious activity; they gave the people a better 
quality of amusement than they could get in the nearest 
town, and the fact that the townspeople came out to their 
socialized church helped to show them how valuable it was. 
There is something interesting going on all the time; their 
imaginations are alive; and the man who rents his farm and 
goes to town is not so much envied as blamed. 

"You'd think he'd do better by his boys than to leave them 
hanging around Main Street all the time." 

"Look at how his land is getting all run down — the way 
his renter don't manure it." 

"He may not have much to do; but I can't see what he 
gets out of living- in town." 

This was a new sort of comment, directly traceable to the 
fact that one little country church had based its teaching on 
the holiness of this world and made life interesting by feeding 
the socially hungry and cheering the intellectually faint. 

On the June Sunday when I attended service at this church, 
the automobiles and the fine horses of these prosperous farmers 
and the town folks from six miles away filled the carriage- 
sheds and monopolized the fence-posts. And the congrega- 
tion, made up from a half-dozen old-line denominations, filled 
the flower-trimmed, newly painted church building to the 
very doors. No one had preached church federation; it had 
come about spontaneously! 

Farther north, I found a young clergyman who had organ- 
ized a baseball team in the neighborhood, on which he was 
pitcher, and which played every Saturday afternoon, to the 
joy of the whole county. In Wisconsin and Dakota there are 


clergymen who have organized the people into cooperative 
associations for buying and selling, in order that through 
cooperative business they may have a daily practical illustra- 
tion of the Golden Rule. In the country town of Pine Island, 
Minnesota, I attended a moving-picture show, run in the 
local opera-house by the board of directors of the Methodist 
church. As the pastor explained it, the theory was that the 
young people and the isolated farmers of the district must 
have the best recreation that could be supplied. 

Such church activities are springing up in spots throughout 
the open country; but in many places it seems easier to de- 
velop a new institution to meet the rising demands of the 
farming population than to reform the stiff-necked churches 
directly. The young people who have left the churches of 
the old order to the generation that grew up in them — who, 
like the Chinese, see more likeness than difference between 
Baptists and Presbyterians, and have not acquired rehgion 
through the revival meeting and mourners' bench, but have 
graduated into Christianity from the Sunday-school — 
cannot be brought to see religion in sectarian terms. It is 
because the Young Men's and Young Women's Christian 
Associations serve the purposes of the rural revolution out- 
side of denominational lines, that they are proving such 
valuable aids to the new reformation. The idea that the 
Christian exists in a sort of social vacuum no longer obtains 

"It makes a great appeal to the girls," a worker in Red 
Wing, Minnesota, told me — ''the idea that by joining the 
Y. W. C. A. they come in touch, not only with the girls of New 
York and San Francisco, but of India and China, too." 

The secretaries of the rural Y. M. C. A. declare that "the 
inherent organization germ of their work is social," and that 
their programmes include, not only Bible study and reli- 
gious meetings, but also "practical talks, lectures, educational 
classes, agricultural institutes and contests, literary and de- 


bating clubs, boy scouts, athletics, gymnastics and aquatics, 
summer camps, hikes, educational tours, and conferences." 

It is because the demands of the revolting farmers include 
these social satisfactions that can be had only after prosperity 
and a certain intellectual freedom have been attained that 
these extra-denominational associations are doing such 
effective work. They command secretaries of special training 
such as is generally outside the requirements for the ministry. 
The churches accept ministers whose preparation varies from 
a bachelor's degree supplemented by a theological course and 
an assistant pastorate to what is vaguely called "some per- 
sonal religious experience." This may or may not be enough; 
but the Y. M. C. A. takes no such chances. The international 
secretary says, "It is not sufJEicient that the county secretary 
should be a successful evangelist, Bible teacher, or executive." 
The Association's aim is to provide nothing but college men, 
preferably graduates of the agricultural colleges. Is it not 
possibly because of this different training that the average 
salary of all ministers of all denominations in places with less 
than twenty-five thousand inhabitants is $573 a year, while 
the county secretaries can and do command, at the start, 
salaries averaging $1,400? 

The leaders in the new reformation are reminding the 
church that since it has developed a paid ministry, society 
has also developed a utilitarian civilization and has grown to 
expect every adult male, parsons included, to earn his keep. 
They are urging the church to think, not in terms of one person 
at a time, but of the whole social body at once; to preach, 
not a religion of the individual, but a religion of the social 
order. They are meeting with opposition, as Wyclif and Hus 
and Luther met with opposition; but the future of the country 
church is with them, because they have made themselves an 
essential force in this vitally progressive rural revolution. 


Thomas Nixon Carver 

No other problem is even second in importance to that of 
maintaining the native quality of the rural population. The 
rural districts are the seed bed from which even the cities 
are stocked with people. Upon the character of this stock, 
more than upon anything else, does the greatness of a nation 
and the quality of its civilization ultimately depend. If the 
native vigor, physical and mental, of the people should decline, 
nothing could save its civilization from decay. Not even 
education itself can permanently arrest such decay when the 
inborn capacity to be educated is disappearing. Every horse- 
man believes in careful training as a preparation for racing, 
but no horseman, no matter how excellent his system of 
training might be, would expect to maintain or improve the 
speed of his stable if he bred mainly from scrub stock. Nor 
should any country, however excellent its educational system, 
expect to maintain the capacity and productive efficiency of 
its people if the most capable and efficient of them multiply 
least rapidly, and the least capable and efficient multiply 
most rapidly. 

But what is really meant by capacity and productive effi- 
ciency in a people? There is a story of an aged savage who, 
having lived most of his life among civilized men, returned 
in his old age to his native tribe, saying that he had tried 
civilization for forty years, and that it was not worth the 
trouble. A great deal of the philosophy of civilization is epit- 
omized in this story. To a savage mind civilization is never 

^ Copyright. Reprinted by permission from Principles of Rural Eco- 
nomics, Ginn and Company, publishers. 


worth the trouble, for the reason that taking trouble is dis- 
tasteful to the savage mind. Only those races which have 
the capacity for taking trouble, or to whom taking trouble is 
not painful, are capable of becoming civilized. Civilization 
consists largely in taking pains. To some people it is too 
much trouble. They prefer to remain barbarians, even though 
they live in civilized surroundings. Other people have so 
much mental energy that they do not mind taking pains; 
in fact they rather enjoy it. They are the builders of our 
civilization. Individual genius was once defined as the 
capacity for taking infinite pains. The genius of a race or of 
a nation, and its capacity for civilization, may be defined in 
precisely the same terms. 

Efficient agriculture requires forethought, planning for 
next year, and the year after, and the year after that; putting 
in a great deal of careful, painstaking work to-day, with no 
prospect of seeing a tangible result for years to come; looking 
after an interminable number of details day by day, week by 
week, month by month, and year by year, in expectation of 
returns so distant in the future as to lie beyond the vision of 
lesser minds. Only the men or the races which possess this 
kind of capacity are capable of efficient agriculture or of 
efficient industry of any kind. Whatever other admirable 
qualities the savage may possess, — and he may possibly 
boast superiority over the civilized man in many respects, — 
lacking these qualities, he will remain a beaten race. Simi- 
larly, whatever admirable and amiable qualities an individual 
of our own race may possess, lacking these he will be a beaten 
man. It is idle for either a race or an individual to complain, 
or to say that in some other kind of a world it would not have 
been beaten. This happens to be this kind of a world, and 
in this kind of a world it happens that success comes to those 
races which possess in the highest degree the economic virtues 
of industry, sobriety, thrift, forethought, reliability, knowledge 
of natural laws, and mutual helpfulness. These are the 


qualities which bring success to a race or a nation, and the 
possession of these qualities constitutes, therefore, what we 
call capacity and efficiency. We may persuade ourselves that 
we like other qualities or people who possess them, but nature 
pays very little attention to our likes and dislikes in such 
matters. However much we may like other qualities, the 
peoples who lack these qualities will fail; and however much 
we may persuade ourselves that we despise the sober, homely, 
economic virtues, the peoples who possess them will succeed 
and eventually dominate the world. 

The problem of maintaining the capacity of the rural 
population for civilization will depend upon two questions: 
(i) Is it the most or the least capable individuals who marry 
earliest and have the largest families? (2) Is it the most or 
the least capable individuals who leave the farms and migrate 
to the cities? 

Ideally it would seem as though the most capable young 
men should arrive first at a position of independence, where 
it would be possible to marry and settle down to the work of 
building up an estate and a family. Where social ideals are 
sound this is doubtless the case; but where they are unsound 
it is otherwise. Where the social ideals are such that it is 
regarded as an honorable ambition — as the most honorable 
ambition, in fact — to found a family, with a family estate to 
support it, or to perpetuate a family already honorably 
established, and to maintain its standards and traditions, the 
capable young men will be guided by this ideal, and the most 
capable of them will succeed best in realizing it. But where 
the end and aim of economic life centers in the gratification 
of the senses or of individual vanity, in attracting public 
notice because of individual achievement in fashionable 
society, in art, literature, or scholarship, or in any other of 
the so-called polite pursuits, the family ideal is lost from 
sight. Under such circumstances, there is a tendency to 
look upon achievement in some of these directions as an end 


in itself, rather than as a means of family building; to assume 
that an honorable ambition is realized when success along 
these other lines is attained, regardless of the fate of the 
family ideal. Such perverted social ideals are likely to prove 
disastrous to the race, because they lead the capable young 
men and women to follow those other ambitions and to aban- 
don that of the family builder. 

The Family Builder 

The general abandonment of the ambition of the family 
builder will prove disastrous to the race for several reasons. 
In the first place, it leads capable and ambitious young men 
to choose their wives for other reasons than their capacity as 
mothers. The man whose ideal of life centers in individual 
gratification will, if he is successful enough in an economic 
sense to give him some opportunity for choice in the matter, 
choose a wife on the ground of her capacity to minister to his 
vanity or to his sensuahty; to choose one, for example, who 
will help him in fashionable society, whose face will please his 
fancy, etc. The man whose dominant ambition is to found a 
splendid family, or to achieve immortality by leaving behind 
him a family of capable children, well trained and disciplined 
for the battle of life, and dominated by high ideals of morality, 
patriotism, etc., will choose a wife who is capable of helping 
him to achieve that ambition. She must be sound physically 
and capable of bearing and nursing healthy children; she must 
also be possessed of unusual mental power, and therefore 
capable of transmitting that mental power to her children ; 
and, finally, she must be dominated by high ideals of morality 
and social service, in order that she may give her time and 
strength unsparingly to the task of training her children for 
good citizenship. When the family-building ambition domi- 
nates the people, this is the kind of woman who will be most 
sought after in marriage, who will least frequently remain 
unmarried and childless, who will marry earhest and therefore 


have the longest child-bearing period, and who will get the 
most capable and vigorous husbands, and therefore bear the 
most capable and vigorous children. Where different ideals 
prevail, a different type of woman will be most sought after in 
marriage. Women weaker physically, mentally, and morally 
may satisfy other desires better than the type just described; 
consequently the stronger type of women will be more likely 
to remain unmarried and childless, or to marry later and 
therefore have a shorter child-bearing period, or to get less 
capable and vigorous husbands and therefore bear less capable 
and vigorous children. In addition to all this, where other 
than the family ideal dominates marriage, there will be more 
childless marriages. 

The country which maintains the soundest ideals and 
ambitions in the way of family building will be the country 
peopled with the strongest and most capable citizens. The 
country with the strongest and most capable citizenship will 
be the strongest and the most prosperous country. Since 
the citizenship of the country is, in the end, recruited mainly 
from the rural districts, it is especially important that sound 
ideals should predominate there. To fail in this respect is, 
eventually, to fail in everything. Therefore there need not 
be the slightest hesitation in saying that the most important 
ambition which can be cherished in the country is the ambi- 
tion of every capable man and woman to found or perpetuate 
an honorable, capable, and vigorous family. The aim of 
successful agriculture should be to enable the successful 
agriculturist to maintain a family estate for the support and 
perpetuation of such a family. Nothing could be more 
disastrous than the idea that successful agriculture, or a rich 
farm, was an end in itself, or that it was a means to any such 
end as sensual gratification, personal vanity or ostentation, 
or more luxurious ease. 


Rural Migration 

Next in importance to the character of the family ideal as 
a factor in race building is the character of rural migration. 
If it should happen that the most vigorous, capable, and enter- 
prising youths should continually leave the country for the 
city, there to become sterilized, as is usually the case, through 
the pursuit of sensuality, vanity, or false ambition, only one 
result would be possible. The less vigorous, capable, and 
enterprising youths being left in the country, there to marry 
and bring up families, and the same process of selection going 
on generation after generation, the quality of the rural popula- 
tion would inevitably deteriorate. This would happen as 
certainly as it would if a horse or cattle breeder should follow 
the practice of selling his best animals and keeping the inferior 
ones for breeding purposes. If such a breeder should con- 
tinue this practice, he would eventually have no first-rate 
animals to sell. Similarly, if the rural population should 
degenerate, there would eventually be no superior men and 
women to send to the cities, and the cities themselves would 
then degenerate. But if it should happen that the best, the 
strongest, the most intelligent, and the most enterprising 
youths should stay in the country, and the inferior ones should 
be sent to the cities to be sterilized by false ambitions, then 
it would follow that the quality of the rural population would 
improve. So long as the rural population is improving there is 
no danger of national decay or weakness, or of a decline of civili- 
zation. It is therefore of great importance that the farms shall 
retain at least their fair share of the talent of the country. 

In order that young men and women of talent and capacity 
may be induced to remain on the farms, rural life must be 
made attractive to them. Farm life cannot be attractive to 
such men and women unless it offers opportunities for a liberal 
material income, for agreeable social life, and for intellectual 
and aesthetic enjoyment. 


An Adequate Income 

The problem of securing an adequate income to the farmer's 
family is partly a problem of securing an adequate supply of 
land and capital for them. There is very little in the peasant 
type of farming, where the farmer is so inadequately supplied 
with land as to make efficient agriculture impossible, and 
where even machinery and good teams are unprofitable, to 
attract men and women of high spirit and enterprise. This 
is the type of farming, however, which would be forced upon 
us if the agricultural population should increase in such a 
way as to bring about a continuous morcellement, or sub- 
division of farms into smaller and smaller units. Such an 
increase in the number of the rural population would therefore 
inevitably result in a decline in its quality, because such petty 
farming, being unattractive to men and women of capacity 
for larger things, would drive them cityward and leave in the 
country only the type fitted for small affairs. 

This presents a phase of the problem of rural depopulation 
which is too frequently overlooked. Where the decline in 
numbers comes about as a result of a readjustment of agricul- 
tural methods, it may be, in the end, a good thing. Where 
the farms have proved too small for the most efficient agri- 
culture, and where therefore the owners of small farms find 
them so unprofitable as to be induced either to buy out their 
neighbors or to sell out to them, the result is larger farms and 
a smaller number of farmers. If the change results in making 
farming more attractive to men and women of capacity, and 
in keeping such people on the farms, the decline in numbers 
is compensated for by a permanent improvement in quality. 
They who believe that quality is more important than quantity 
must approve the change. 

Fortunately the transfer of land is so easy and inexpensive 
in this country as yet, especially in the newer states, that 
there are no serious obstacles in the way of this process 


Where the farms are either too small or too large to secure 
their highest value, they tend to be combined in the former 
case, or to be subdivided in the latter, until they approximate 
the size which gives them greatest value. The reason why 
this process does not go on in the same way in some of the 
older countries is because of the difficulties in the way of 
transferring land. The long history of a given title, the vast 
number of compUcated legal rights and claims which may have 
accrued, the ridiculously pious care with which even the 
most remote rights of distant relatives are guarded by the 
courts, make the process of transferring a piece of land a 
formidable task. 

Where, however, rural depopulation results in the sheer 
abandonment of the land and allowing it to go to waste, the 
problem is somewhat different. Even though the land is so 
poor as to attract only a poor grade of farmers, it may be 
better to have it occupied by a low-grade population than not 
to have it occupied at all, though even that is open to question. 
It is a mistake to assume that all unoccupied land is going to 
waste. In New England it speedily grows up to timber, and 
in some cases that is the most productive use to which land 
can be put. The essential thing to remember is that a dense 
agricultural population, if that density means a small income 
per family, invariably means, under modern conditions, a 
low-grade population, because men and women of spirit and 
capacity will not stay. They will leave the country districts 
in the possession of people who can do no better anywhere 
else, and who are therefore content to remain and accept a 
low standard of living. But a relatively sparse population, 
if it means a large income per family, will generally mean a 
high-grade population, because such conditions will help to 
attract and hold men and women of spirit and capacity. If 
we once understand this, we shall not be alarmed over a decline 
in the rural population until we know the reasons and the 


Still more important as a means of securing adequate 
incomes for intelligent farmers is the existence and accessi- 
bility of exact scientific knowledge to those who have the 
capacity to acquire and apply it. Our agricultural colleges, 
the experiment stations, and the agricultural literature which 
they are pubhshing and distributing, all combine to give to 
the farmer of intelligence a higher differential advantage over 
the ignoramus. Only the man of intelligence is capable of 
understanding and applying the results of scientific study and 
experiment. He is the man who will profit most, therefore, 
and who will in the end be able to buy out his ignorant neigh- 
bor and send him off to town to work under a boss. Such an 
improvement in our rural population augurs well for the 
future of the republic. 

An Agreeable Social Life 

Quite as important as the question of an adequate income 
is that of an agreeable social life as a means of attracting a 
superior type of men and women to the farms. Few people 
realize how much more dependent the farmer is than any one 
else upon his social surroundings. A business man in the 
city can choose his neighbors without changing his place of 
business, for the reason that his residence and his place of 
business are entirely disconnected. If he does not like one 
neighborhood as a place of residence and a place in which to 
bring up his family, he can move to another without disturb- 
ing his business relations. The farmer must live on his farm 
and must bring up his children there. Whatever the social 
surroundings of the neighborhood are, he must accept them 
or else sell out and move, thus upsetting all his business rela- 
tions and hazarding his business prosperity on the chance of 
improving his social relations. Again, the man in the city is 
usually within easy reach of a great variety of schools, 
churches, and other social agencies. If one does not suit 
him, he can make use of another without great inconvenience. 


In the country, where all such things are farther apart, it would 
ordinarily be a great inconvenience to send his children to any 
other school than the one belonging to his own district, or to 
take his family to another church than one of those of the 
neighborhood. Again, even though the city man does not 
choose his place of residence wisely, he is not dependent upon 
his neighbors for his social life. Where the neighborhood 
idea does not prevail, as it usually does not in the city, one 
may ignore his own neighbors and still have an agreeable 
social life among the members of his class, trade, occupation, 
or club. This is probably, in the end, a vicious tendency, but 
it does, at any rate, help to make the city man relatively 
independent of the social conditions of his immediate neigh- 
borhood. But the farmer cannot pick and choose in this way. 
Perhaps it is well that he should not, but this at least shows 
that he is dependent upon his neighborhood. As a result of 
this dependence he is compelled, more than any other class of 
men, to take an interest in neighborhood affairs. The safety 
and well-being of his own family depend upon his having good 
neighbors and good moral and social conditions within his 
neighborhood. This is doubtless a good thing in the end, 
because it forces him, if he is interested in his family and the 
future careers of his children, to give time and energy to the 
work of neighborhood improvement. But temporarily it may 
be a hardship to the man of clean habits and sound principles, be- 
cause, before he can get the neighborhood cleaned up, his family 
may have suffered from the lack of a wholesome social life. 

Whatever may be said upon that point, it can scarcely be 
denied that the farmer, more than any one else, has reason 
to take an active interest in the local church, the school, the 
grange, the library, local sports, and every other agency which 
may contribute to the social life of the neighborhood. If he 
allows these things to degenerate, it will profit him little to 
have come into possession of broad acres, to have grown big 
crops, and to have built big barns to hold them. 


The Country Church 

Among the agencies for the building up of a wholesome 
social life in the country the rural church deserves first men- 
tion; if for no other reason, because it is the oldest. Un- 
fortunately there has been a close parallelism between the 
practices of the rural churches in America and the type of 
agriculture which has prevailed. In the pioneering stage 
agriculture has consisted mainly in harvesting the soil, and 
very little attention has been paid to soil building. Similarly, 
the pioneering churches have too generally followed the plan 
of harvesting a membership by revivalistic methods and have 
given too little attention to membership building. A certain 
pioneer preacher, of picturesque fame, was once reported to 
have opposed the education of men for the ministry on the 
ground that there were plenty of well-educated men to be 
had, and if the Lord wanted an educated minister all he 
needed to do was to seize upon one of these educated sinners 
and shake him over the pit until he came to his senses and 
agreed to preach the gospel. Fortunately this argument did 
not prevail; but it has looked, at times, as though some of 
the more popular churches have relied upon a similar policy for 
the recruiting of their membership. They seem to have relied 
more upon the making of converts from among mature repro- 
bates than upon the training of successive generations of boys and 
girls into good, mutually helpful neighbors; into productive, 
efficient, prosperous farmers; in short, into good substantial 
citizens such as build up a community, increase the productivity 
of its farms, and make it a desirable place in which to live. 

However, things are improving in one respect at least, and 
the pioneering stage of church activity is giving way to a more 
permanent and constructive form of church activity. The 
transition period, however, is a critical one, and in many cases 
there appears to be an inability on the part of the country 
church to live through it. 


One serious danger, against which the warning cannot be 
made too strong, is the snare of a sentimental type of spiritu- 
ahty, a kind of spirituality which wastes itself in mere aesthetic 
or emotional enjoyment — a kind of spiritual Sybaritism. 
The church which yields to this temptation, and cultivates a 
form of religious emotionalism as an end in itself, will fail; 
and it will deserve to fail because it will be of no use to its 
members or to the world. The church which realizes that its 
spirituality must meet the practical test of productivity; 
that its members must be made better farmers and better 
citizens generally by reason of their spirituality; that the 
more religious they are the better crops they will grow, the 
better stock they will keep, the better care they will give it, 
and the better neighbors they will be, is the church which will 
deserve to succeed and in the end will succeed. 

It may be laid down as a general law of rural economy that 
the productive land in any farming community will tend to 
pass more and more into the hands of those who can cultivate 
it most efficiently, — that is, into the hands of the most 
efficient farmers, — unless it is prevented from doing so by 
some kind of military force exercised by an aristocratic ruling 
class, or by an expensive and cumbersome system of trans- 
ferring land titles. In a democratic country like the United 
States, where there are few impediments in the way of the 
free transfer of land, we need look for nothing else. The 
men who can make the land produce the most will be able to 
pay the most for it, and in the end they will get it and hold 
it. This looks simple enough, no doubt, and may not at 
first seem to signify much, but it is weighted with consequences 
of the most stupendous and far-reaching character, — conse- 
quences which it would be suicidal for the church to ignore. 

It means simply and literally that the rural districts are 
never to be thoroughly Christianized until Christians become, 
as a rule, better farmers than non-Christians. If it should 
happen that Christians should really become better farmers 


than non-Christians, the land will pass more and more into 
the possession of Christians, and this will become a Christian 
country, at least so far as the rural districts are concerned. 
The first result would probably be to paganize the cities, since 
the non-Christians displaced from the rural districts by their 
superior competitors would take refuge in the towns. But 
since nature has a way of exterminating town populations in 
three or four generations, and the towns have therefore to be 
continuously recruited from the country, the Christianizing 
of the rural districts would eventually mean the Christianizing 
of the towns also. But, vice versa, if non-Christians should 
become the better farmers, by reason of some false philosophy 
or supercilious attitude toward material wealth and economic 
achievement on the part of the church, then this would even- 
tually become a non-Christian country for the same reason. 

But if, as a third possibility, there should be no perceptible 
difference between Christians and non-Christians as to their 
knowledge and adaptability, or as to their general fitness to 
survive and possess the earth, — fitness, that is, as determined 
by nature's standard rather than by some artificial standard 
of our own devising, — the result would be that Christians 
would remain indefinitely a mere sect in the midst of a 
non-Christian or nondescript population. The only way of 
avoiding this rather unsatisfactory situation would be to force 
the whole population into a nominal Christianity by military 
force. But, assuming that physical force is not to be used, 
and that the ordinary economic forces are to operate undis- 
turbed by such violent means, then the contention will hold. 
This is what is likely to happen if certain religious leaders 
should succeed in identifying Christianity with millinery, 
with emotionalism, with abstract formulas respecting the 
invisible world, or with mere loyalty to an organization, 
rather than with rational conduct. By rational conduct is 
meant that kind of conduct which conserves human energy 
and enables men to fulfill their mission of subduing the earth 


and ruling over it, which enables them to survive in the 
struggle with nature. This is the essence of all genuine 

If the significance of this law is once clearly understood, 
there is little danger that the church will make the wrong 
choice or hesitate long in making the right one. It v/ould at 
once decide to make better farmers of its rural members than 
non-members can possibly become, since non-members would 
lack the stimulating influences which go with membership. 
The only danger is that the churches, some of them at least, 
will fail to see the point, or refuse to see it, and continue to 
hug the delusion that they are under the guidance of a higher 
power than political economy, and may therefore safely 
ignore its laws. That would be a delusion, because a law is 
a law, and the words higher and lower have no application. 
To believe that there may be a conflict between divine law 
and physical law, or between divine law and economic law, is 
to believe that this is an irrational universe, at war with 
itself. Moreover', we must form our conclusions as to the will 
of God and the duty of man on the basis of the observed facts 
and uniformities of the world of actual experience; and the 
laws of political economy are among these observed uni- 
formities. Our only way of knowing that we are in tune 
with the Infinite is by observing that we are in tune with the 
finite; and we cannot possibly be in tune with the finite unless 
we act in harmony with known physical and economic 

There may be some excellent people who hold that it should 
not be the mission of the church to make good farmers, but 
to convert to Christianity those who are already good farmers. 
Reliance upon the process of conversion may appeal to some 
as the right policy for the church to pursue; but unless 
conversion means increased efficiency, greater adaptability, 
greater fitness for the struggle for existence, better conserva- 
tion of human energy, the church can scarcely hold the ground 


which it wins by that process, but will be continually losing 
ground through economic competition with the more efficient 

But if this is a rational universe, must we not conclude 
that any religion or any religious movement, however attract- 
ive it may seem, is proved a false religion or a misdirected 
religious movement, which does not increase the capacity of 
its followers to control the forces of nature, to dominate the 
earth and to rule over it, which does not increase their adapta- 
bility, which does not make the nation which adopts it a 
prosperous nation? Conversely, must we not conclude, assum- 
ing still a rational universe, that that is a true religion which, 
if adopted by a whole community or a whole nation, would 
increase the adaptability of that community or that nation 
and enable it to subjugate the earth and to outgrow both in 
power and wealth, in comfort and prosperity, the nation which 
does not adopt it? The alternative to this conclusion would 
seem to be to fall back upon the concept of an irrational 
universe, on the belief that this world is Satan's world, in 
conflict with God's law, instead of God's world in harmony 
with itself. 

This doctrine is not so revolutionary as it may seem. In- 
deed, it is so old-fashioned as to be positively reactionary, 
and that is why it may seem new and revolutionary to those 
who have forgotten certain old truths. If it be correct to 
say that the rural districts will become Christianized only in 
proportion as Christians become better farmers than- non- 
Christians, it must also be true that whatever permanent 
success the rural church has had in the past has been due to 
the same reason, except where force or some other non-economic 
factor has intervened. Such is, as a matter of fact, the case. 
In spite of the emphasis of the church upon spirituality, or 
because of its emphasis upon a sane and wholesome kind of 
spirituality, men have usually become better farmers under 
its influence. For, along with certain formalities of belief 


and conduct, there has generally been, for one reason or 
another, considerable emphasis upon the plain economic 
virtues of industry, sobriety, thrift, forethought, and mutual 
helpfulness. Wherever there has been a pure and elevated 
type of Christianity, there Christians have exhibited these 
virtues in somewhat greater degree than non-Christians. 
This simply means that they have wasted less of their energy 
in vice, dissipation, brawling, or in riotous living, than their 
non-Christian neighbors. Economizing their energy, they 
were able to prevail over those who wasted theirs. Some- 
times, however, war and persecution have been resorted to, 
to check this economic growth. At other times Christians 
themselves have resorted to these non-economic methods of 
gaining ground. But where economic forces have been allowed 
to work unhindered, and where Christianity has been of a 
type worth preserving, there it has grown strong by reason of 
these economic forces alone, and it has not needed to appeal 
to physical force or to the state to spread itself. 

But is not agricultural competition itself a form of war? 
Certain misinformed philosophers have fallen into the habit 
of saying so. There is this difference. In war success de- 
pends upon the power and the willingness to destroy. In 
agriculture success depends upon the power and willingness 
to produce. In war they win who inflict the greatest pain 
and injury. In agriculture they win who render the greatest 
utility or service; and to a sober mind this must appear to be 
a real difference. 

But why confine these observations to agriculture and 
rural economy? Are not the conditions of economic success 
the same in the city as in the country? And must not religion 
prevail over irreligion in the city as well as in the country, 
provided religion secures a greater conservation of human 
energy than does irreligion? In a certain very broad sense, 
or in the long run, — with a great deal of emphasis on the 
word "long," — that is probably true. But the conditions 


of individual economic success in cities are so complex, and 
there are so many opportunities for 

ways that are dark 
And for tricks that are vain, 

as to obscure though not to obliterate entirely the working of 
this law under which success depends upon productive service. 
In agriculture one must wrest a living from nature, and 
nature cannot be tricked or deluded. But a large element of 
our city populations — ■ and generally they are the dominant 
element — get their living out of other people; and people 
are easily deceived. Instead of laboring to make two blades 
of grass grow where one had grown before, their business is 
to make two dollars emerge from other people's pockets where 
one had emerged before. Neither impudence, nor a smooth 
tongue, nor a distinguished manner, nor lurid rhetoric ever 
yet made an acre of land yield a larger crop of grain; but 
they have frequently made an office, a sanctum, a platform, 
and even a pulpit yield a larger crop of dollars. They who 
get their living out of other people must, of necessity, interest 
those other people; and men are so constituted that queer 
and abnormal things are more interesting to them than the 
usual and the normal. They will pay money for the privilege 
of seeing a two-headed calf, when a normal calf would not 
interest them at all. The dime-museum freak makes money 
by showing to our interested gaze his physical abnormalities. 
He is an economic success in that he makes a good living by 
it, but it does not follow that he is the type which is fitted to 
survive, or which religion ought to try to produce. Other 
men, going under the names of artists, novelists, or dramatists 
of certain nameless schools, make very good livings by reveal- 
ing to interested minds their mental and moral abnormalities. 
They, like the dime-museum freaks, are economic successes 
in that they make good livings, but it does not follow that 
they are the type of man fitted to survive, or that religion 


ought to try to produce. This type of economic success is 
an urban rather than a rural one, and it flourishes under 
urban rather than rural conditions. So long as it flourishes 
there is no reason why religious men who conserve their 
energies for productive service should succeed in crowding 
them out of existence. The only chance of attaining that 
end will be for religion to give people a saner appreciation of 
things, teach them to be more interested in normal calves 
than in two-headed calves, in normal men than in dime- 
museum freaks, in sane writers than in certain degenerate 
types now holding the attention of the gaping crowd. If 
this can be brought about, then it will result that the religious 
type of man, even in cities, will more and more prevail over 
the irreligious, provided the religion itself is worth preserv- 
ing, — that is, provided it becomes a positive factor in the 
conservation of human energy. 

As has already been suggested, there is a great deal more 
involved in the making of a good farmer than in the teaching 
of scientific agriculture. Mr. Benjamin Kidd, in his Social 
Evolution, has done well to emphasize the importance of moral 
qualities as compared with intellectual achievements. In 
the first place, intellectual achievements, or their results, can 
only be utilized where there is a sane and wholesome morality 
as a basis. In the second place, the results of the intellectual 
achievement of one race or of one man may be borrowed freely 
by the rest of the world, provided the rest of the world have 
the moral qualities which will enable them to profit by so 
doing; whereas moral qualities cannot be borrowed from one 
race by another. Japan, for example, could easily borrow 
from European nations the art of modern warfare, together 
with its instruments of destruction; but she did not borrow, 
and could not borrow, that splendid courage and discipline 
which enabled her to utilize so efficiently the inventions 
which she borrowed. So one nation can easily borrow farm 
machinery and modern methods of agriculture, but it cannot 


borrow the moral qualities which will enable it to profit by 
them. Saying nothing of mental alertness and willingness to 
learn, which might be classed as mental rather than moral, 
it could not borrow that patient spirit of toil, nor that sturdy 
self-reliance, nor that stern and unrelenting sense of duty, 
nor that forethought which sacrifices present enjoyment to 
future profit, nor that spirit of mutual helpfulness, all of 
which are essential to any effective rural work. Again, a 
nation cannot easily borrow a sane and sober reason, a willing- 
ness to trust to its own care in preparing the soil rather than 
to the blessing of the priest upon the fields; nor can it borrow 
a general spirit of enterprise which ventures out upon plans 
and projects which approve themselves to the reason. And, 
finally, it cannot borrow that love for the soil, and the great 
outdoors, and the growing crops, and the domestic animals, 
which marks every successful rural people. These things 
have to be developed on the soil, to be bred into the bone and 
fiber of the people, and they are the first requisites for good 
farming. After them comes scientific knowledge. In the 
development of such moral qualities as these the church has 
been, and may become again, the most effective agency. 

Because of such moral qualities as these, the Puritans were 
able to subdue the New England forest and to build up a 
great rural civilization on the basis of a sterile soil and an 
inhospitable climate, and without any great amount of scien- 
tific knowledge, though as compared with other communities 
their knowledge of agriculture was not inferior. They took 
their work seriously, as befitted those who had such a task 
before them as the building of a wilderness empire. Their 
unbending sense of duty and their thrift and foresight have 
become proverbial, as have their keenness, their alertness, 
and their humor. But their mutual helpfulness, though less 
proverbial, is attested by their log-rollings, their house rais- 
ings, their husking bees, and the like, making even their 
pleasures bring them useful results, both material and social. 


— material in the sense of having something more substantial 
than headaches to show for their festivities, social in the 
sense of having the strongest of all bonds of social sym- 
pathy, namely cooperative labor, as the basis of their social 

It is said that the great problem of the country church 
to-day is that of an adequate support of the ministry. How 
can the ministry be adequately supported? One obvious 
answer is to reduce the number of churches, where there are 
too many churches for the community to support. This is a 
good answer; perhaps that is the easiest way, but it is the 
second-best way. Another way is to build up the community 
in order that it may furnish adequate membership and ade- 
quate support for all the churches. This may be a harder 
way, but where it is not impossible it is the best. 

There was a time when the finance ministers of European 
governments were hard pressed to provide a revenue for the 
expenses of the state. They eventually found that the best 
way to get adequate support for the state was to increase the 
prosperity of the country. When they began studying how 
to make the country prosperous, the science of national 
economy, or political economy, was born. When they who 
are charged with the task of raising money for the support of 
the churches and the ministry awaken to the fact that the 
best way to secure adequate support is to make the parish 
more prosperous, the science of parish economy will be born. 
This will be, for our rural churches, as fortunate an event as 
the birth of political economy was for modern governments. 

Of course there should be continued emphasis, in the teach- 
ings of the church and the pulpit, upon the plain economic 
virtues of industry, sobriety, thrift, practical scientific knowl- 
edge, and mutual helpfulness; but much more emphasis than 
heretofore should be placed on the last two. Practical scien- 
tific knowledge of agriculture and mutual helpfulness in the 
promotion of the welfare of the parish are absolutely essential, 


and unless the churches can help in this direction they will 
remain poor and inadequately supported. For those who 
think that the church should hold itself above the work of 
preaching the kind of conduct that pays, or the kind of life 
that succeeds, the economic law stated above is the strongest 

If the kingdom of God is a kingdom of service, these efforts 
are quite consistent with the mission of the church. If it 
will seek to serve the community in this way, seeking frst to 
be of service, all the other things — that is, sufficient wealth, 
membership, esteem, etc. — will be added unto it. If, how- 
ever, it seeks first merely to make proselytes, to increase its 
membership, or to get money, it will have no reason to expect 
or deserve permanent success. 

Organized efforts in the churches for the study of parish 
economy, for gaining more and more scientific knowledge of 
agriculture, for the practical kind of Christian brotherhood 
which shows itself in the form of mutual helpfulness and 
cooperation, in the form of decreasing jealousy and suspicion, 
in the form of greater public spirit, greater alertness for 
opportunities of promoting the public good and building up 
the parish and the community, in helping young men and 
young women to get started in productive work and in home 
building, in helping the children to get the kind of training 
which will enable them to make a better living in the parish, 
— efforts of this kind will eventually result in better support 
for the churches themselves, because the community will 
then be able to support the church more liberally, and, what 
is more important, it will then see that the church is worth 

This ideal of a church which makes itself a factor in building 
up a community, even in material things, is not an impossible 
ideal. It has been realized in the past and it can be realized 
again. An illustrious example is that of Jean Frederic Oberlin, 
the pastor of the Steinthal. Numberless other examples can 


be found in the religious orders of the medieval church, — 
examples of communities which were made rich and prosperous 
by the teachings and the example of self-sacrificing leaders. 
This ideal will, however, never be realized by a church which 
affects to despise this world and the things of this world, 
which regards the world itself as lost, and conceives of its own 
mission as consisting in saving as many individual souls as 
possible from the wreck. 

If the church will assume that the world is not going to 
perdition, that it is going to last for a long time, and that it 
will eventually be a Christian or a non-Christian world, accord- 
ing as Christians or non-Christians prove themselves more 
fit to possess it, — according as they are better farmers, bfetter 
business men, better mechanics, better politicians, — then 
the church will turn its attention more and more to the mak- 
ing of better and more progressive farmers, business men, 
mechanics, and politicians. 

What is Social Service ? 

Much is being said nowadays about social service as the 
mission of the church. That is, in itself, an excellent thing; 
but there is a tendency to take too narrow a view of social 
service, just as there was formerly a tendency to take too 
narrow a view of spirituality. The result is that as much cant 
is being preached in the name of social service as ever was 
preached in the name of spirituality. This is to be expected 
of those who do not realize that all productive work, such as 
growing corn, wheat, or cattle, to feed the world, or growing 
wool or cotton to clothe the world, is social service; and that 
the best social service which the average man can perform is 
to do his regular work well, — to grow good crops if he is 
a farmer, and to bring up his family in habits of industry, 
sobriety, thrift, reliability, and mutual helpfulness; that 
anything, in short, is social service which builds up the country 
and makes it strong, powerful, progressive, and prosperous. 


The church which preaches and teaches social service in 
this broad and constructive sense will become a powerful 
factor in the progress and prosperity of the country, and is 
not likely to lack for adequate support. 

The dependence of the farmer upon his social surroundings, 
as previously pointed out, gives the country church a unique 
opportunity for real service outside the field of agricultural 
production. The organizations which can supply the farmer 
and his family with an agreeable social life will supply one of 
the greatest needs of rural people and will deserve their sup- 
port. If the church can do this, there need be no rival organ- 
ization spring up to divide the loyalty and support of the 
people. If the church does not do it, some other organiza- 
tion will. The need is too great to be left unsatisfied, and will 
create the means for its own satisfaction. 

In order that the country church may contribute its share 
toward supplying opportunities for a wholesome and agree- 
able social life, it is not necessary that it undertake an elaborate 
program of entertainments, concerts, gymnastic classes, etc., 
though all these things are good in their places. One thing, 
and only one thing, is essential, though it is sometimes difficult 
to attain and is always capable of infinite variation. It is 
essential that people with a common interest should occa- 
sionally be brought together, that is, within speaking distance 
of one another. If that can be done, social life will take care 
of itself. But it is not always easy to find a common interest. 
In some times and places theological speculation, in others 
political or scientific speculation, has so occupied men's minds 
as to give them an all-absorbing theme of common interest. 
When they came together their common interests made them 
agreeable company for one another and gave them ample 
opportunity for high converse on great themes. Where there 
is no common and absorbing interest of this kind something 
must be found or created, otherwise conversation will revolve 
interminably around such themes as the weather and crops 


But it is not at all necessary that conversation should center 
in speculative themes, either theological, political, or scientific. 
Problems of parish or neighborhood economy, of rural beau- 
tification, are large enough to occupy the time and attention 
of several generations. The problems of the beautification 
of rural roads, bridges, schoolhouses and grounds, church 
grounds, etc., are enough to occupy the spare time and atten- 
tion of rural America for a hundred years to come. A neigh- 
borhood which becomes possessed with a common passion 
for beautification will never lack for social life. The church 
which can arouse such an interest as this, or any other equally 
noble interest, will have gone a long way toward solving 
the problem of a wholesome and agreeable social life in the 

But the well-known and regularly established means of 
social grace must not be overlooked. Most people like to 
eat and drink, and when they can be brought together around 
a common table, they have, in a small way at least, every 
essential of social -life; that is, you have your people together 
with a common interest. From this as a beginning there is 
possible a vast widening of the social life. It can scarcely 
be regarded as profane to suggest that we have, in this ele- 
mentary social principle, one of the great facts of life which 
are symbolized in the Holy Communion. Again, there are 
the common social amusements and recreations. Of particular 
value for rural communities is choral singing, the highest form 
of social amusement known to man. Where a group of people 
sing together for their own delectation, rather than for that 
of an audience, we have one of the best possible solvents of 
private differences and idiosyncrasies, and one of the highest 
possible means of promoting a sense of brotherhood and soli- 
darity, as well as one of the oldest and most primitive forms 
of social communion. Even dancing is not to be despised 
as a means of grace, where it can be carried on in the proper 


The Example of Denmark 

The most remarkable example of agricultural regeneration 
in modern times is Denmark. In 1864 she was facing national 
ruin. As the result of a disastrous war, itself a heavy drain 
upon the country, she had lost some of her best provinces. In 
addition to this she was obliged to pay a heavy war indemnity. 
Finally, and worst of all, her German market was cut off by 
the German tariff wall. But as one result of this accumulation 
of calamities there was developed an intense feeling of national 
patriotism and solidarity. Out of this feeling grew a number 
of cooperative measures for the rebuilding of the country, 
especially in the field of agriculture. Within fifty years 
Denmark became the most prosperous country on the con- 
tinent of Europe, and stands to-day as a monument to the 
efficiency of the spirit of intelligent cooperation. It is a 
cooperation not forced upon the people by a government, but 
a spontaneous cooperation growing out of a general spirit 
of patriotism and mutual helpfulness. Every student who 
is intimately acquainted with the history of this movement 
agrees that the popular recreations and festivities have been 
powerful factors in creating this spirit, and that the popular 
songs and hymns, and the habit of singing them together on 
all occasions, have given to these recreations and festivities 
a patriotic and religious character which is to be found nowhere 
else to-day on so large a scale. 

Every college student is familiar with the fact that when 
a body of students unites upon a common interest, like an 
athletic contest, there is not the slightest difficulty in getting 
them together, and when they do get together there is not the 
slightest difficulty in keeping things going. Even singing 
seems to be a perfectly natural and fitting form of expression. 
Precisely the same principle has been seen in operation on a 
larger scale by any one who has lived through a great national 
crisis, like a war. When the people are intensely interested 


in the same thing their gatherings are never dull. Singing 
together is a natural way of expressing the common feeling, 
and no one questions its propriety. 

The Danish people have demonstrated that it is possible 
for a whole people to become as thoroughly united and as 
enthusiastic upon the common interest of agricultural pro- 
duction and national upbuilding as it is for a body of college 
students to become upon the subject of an athletic contest, 
or for a nation to become on the subject of war. The church 
which can give its people or its neighborhood a great and noble 
enthusiasm like this will have no difificulty in creating a vibrat- 
ing social life. Then it will not seem out of place, or bad 
taste, for the people to sing whenever they get together.^ 
The absence of any common enthusiasm means a disunited, 
egoistic, disintegrating social life, compared with which even 
war, horrible as it is, may be the lesser evil if it results in uniting 
the people in a common interest and a common cause. Since 
Denmark has shown that a people may develop a common 
enthusiasm for the arts of peace, it ought to furnish a basis 
for a constructive faith in its possibility elsewhere. If the 
church is not to be the conservator of that constructive kind 
of faith, where shall we look for it? 

The Country School 

The country school, though a younger institution than the 
country church, is regarded by many as the more powerful and 
influential of the two. It has certain manifest advantages, 
chief among which is the fact that it belongs to the whole 
community instead of a part of it. Therefore it can be made 
the center of the life of the whole neighborhood more easily 
than the church can, especially where denominational differ- 
ences tend to divide the community. On the other hand, 

' Incidentally it may be mentioned that many of the oldest recorded 
hymns of the Indo-European branch of the human race, those of the Rig- 
Veda, are agricultural hymns. 


the fact that the school is a territorial institution — that is, 
that it belongs to all the people living within a certain terri- 
tory — puts it at a disadvantage as compared with the church 
in a neighborhood where the majority of the voters are un- 
progressive and unenlightened. In such a neighborhood the 
school is likely to be of little use, except in so far as it is com- 
pelled by higher state authorities to fulfill its function properly. 
But if the church, being a voluntary institution, should happen 
to have in its membership the more enlightened and pro- 
gressive part of the community, it may begin a work of social 
regeneration which would be impossible for the school. But, 
of course, if the church should be in the control of the least 
intelligent and least progressive part of the community, as 
is sometimes the case, it possesses all the disadvantages and 
none of the advantages of the school. 

The country school is, of course, primarily an educational 
institution, and as such must give its attention mainly to 
instruction in certain conventional subjects which the world 
has come to regard as the necessary basis of an education, or 
as the essentials of a preparation for life. Remembering 
always that every kind of productive work is social service, 
we need have no difficulty in seeing that the first duty of the 
school is to fit its students for individual success in some line 
of production, and that the line for which the rural school 
is best fitted to prepare its pupils is agricultural production. 
But inasmuch as our present purpose is not to discuss the 
general problem of rural education, but only to consider how 
the rural school may be made a factor in developing a more 
wholesome and agreeable social life in the country, we need 
not consider the rural-school curriculum. 

There is already an admirable interest in the school as a 
means of developing patriotism. The flag raisings, the cele- 
bration of national holidays, the reading of patriotic literature, 
the memorizing of national classics, all are excellent, and show 
how thoroughly awake our people are to some of the broader 


aspects of the problem. Much remains yet to be done, how- 
ever, in giving definiteness and concreteness to the patriotic 
sentiments which we are trying to develop. It is one thing 
to develop patriotism as an abstract virtue; it is quite a dif- 
ferent thing to develop it as a passion for a definite, concrete, 
national achievement. At all times and in all lands the desire 
for victory in war has been the most powerful stimulus to 
patriotism. That gives the people something definite to 
strive for, — a concrete achievement around which patriotic 
sentiments may crystallize. That "peace hath her victories 
no less renowned than war," we doubtless believe in a general 
sort of way; but until our belief becomes particular, and we 
come to center our desires upon some definite productive 
achievement in the arts of peace, we shall never be able to 
arouse the patriotic passion as effectively in peace as in war. 
This ought to be especially clear to students who will have 
observed that school loyalty, merely as an abstract virtue, is 
difficult to develop without some definite achievement like 
an athletic contest or a debate, or even a spelling match, to 
be carried through. For our country schools, as well as for 
every other social agency in the country, one great problem, 
therefore, must be to particularize the patriotic sentiments 
of the community and give them a definite, productive aim. 

People Generally Get What They Want Most 

When a common or universal passion for productive achieve- 
ment is once definitely aroused in a community, the achieve- 
ment will follow as a matter of course. Any community can 
have as beautiful a countryside as it wants, provided it wants 
it seriously enough, and with sufficient unanimity, to spend 
the time and energy necessary to beautify it. Any community 
can have as moral a community or as prosperous a community 
as it wants, under the same conditions. Conversely, the lack 
of a common desire or a common social interest means failure 
in the arts of peace as surely as in those of war. 


The desire to make the village the most beautiful village 
in the world, or to make one's township the most beautiful 
township, or to make it the greatest corn- or cotton- or wheat- 
or potato-growing township, or to make its schools the best in 
the world, or to produce the finest cattle or horses or hogs in 
the world, — any really useful purpose, in fact, if it will unite 
the people and call out a common and universal enthusiasm, 
— will do more to dignify the social life of the village or town- 
ship than all the purposeless social entertainments that could 
be invented. A social life is not created by merely saying. Go 
to, now, let us be sociable. It is created by having a common 
purpose, worthy enough to commend itself to all right-minded 
people, and large enough to demand their attention, their 
time, and their hard work. The young men and women in 
particular, of our race, have never yet failed to respond to a 
call to hard work and self-sacrifice, when the work and the 
sacrifice were for an object of common good which they really 
thought worth achieving. 

Next to a common interest and enthusiasm, the most im- 
portant factors in the creation of a wholesome and agreeable 
social life in the country are opportunities for meeting and 
ease of communication. Aside from all the purely religious 
services rendered by the church, the mere fact that it brings 
people together in the room once a week is of immeasurable 
value. The most civilizing influence in the world is contact 
of man with man. Men cannot habitually meet together and 
look into one another's eyes without developing some kind of 
a sense of unity ; nor can they live entirely separate and apart 
from one another without becoming suspicious, morose, and 
unsympathetic. The school, likewise, in addition to its purely 
educational functions, renders a service by the mere fact 
that it brings the juvenile population together day after day. 

In addition to these regular occasions for meeting, there 
are the extraordinary occasions, such as national hoHdays 
and special rural festivities. Unfortunately we have, in this 


country, failed to live up to our opportunities in the way of 
rural sports and festivities. In earlier days the corn huskings, 
barn raisings, quiltings, and a multitude of other occasions 
of the same general description supplied the need for whole- 
some recreation. Now we have outgrown the need for those 
precise forms of social gathering, and have not, as yet, devel- 
oped anything satisfactory to take their place. We may say 
distinctly, therefore, that here is one of the unsolved problems 
of American rural life, though a partial solution has already 
been found in some sections of the country. In the old- 
fashioned Southern barbecue, which still survives in certain 
favored communities; in the Old Settlers' Day, which is 
celebrated in some communities of the central West; and in 
the Old Home Week of New England, we have examples of 
rural festivities which illustrate what may be done in any 
community where the whole countryside turns out for a hol- 
iday. Doubtless there are numerous other examples in other 
parts of the country. In some of the older countries the 
number and character of these festivals constitute an attractive 
feature of rural life. 

The Tough Neighborhood 

One difficulty with us is that we are not yet far enough 
removed from the backwoods stage to have entirely eliminated 
the rowdy element from our rural population. This element 
is frequently so much in evidence on these occasions, especially 
in backwoods neighborhoods, as to keep the more decent and 
self-respecting element away, thus destroying the value of 
the festival. A few generations of severe competition will 
doubtless give the advantage more and more to the sober, 
steady-going, self-respecting element, especially where the 
land is highly desirable. The restless, turbulent, rowdy ele- 
ment being crowded out, one of the greatest drawbacks to a 
wholesome social life in the country will have disappeared. 
This process is noticeably taking place in the best farming 


regions, where there is something to attract a more progress- 
ive class of people. It has not yet shown itself so clearly 
in poorer regions, where there is little to attract a superior 
type of men and women. 

In fact, it is an open question whether the poorest land is 
not destined to remain ultimately in the possession of a poorer 
type of man. A selective process seems to be going on, which 
tends to bring about such a result. Where the land is fertile 
and the opportunities for agricultural enterprise are good, 
the intelligent and progressive youths are induced to remain 
on the farm. They will be able to beat the less intelligent in 
competition and to buy the land away from them. At the 
same time, such lands attract the more intelligent and pro- 
gressive farmers who are looking for a place in which to locate. 
An unintelligent and unprogressive farmer stands a poor show 
in such a place. The other class will offer so much for land 
that he will not be able to buy it. If he owns it already, they 
will offer him so much for it that he will generally yield to 
the pressure sooner or later, and sell out. On the other hand, 
where the land is poor and opportunities meager, the more 
capable of the growing youths tend to move away, so long at 
least as there are better opportunities to be found elsewhere. 
Again, the men who are crowded off the richer lands will some- 
times drift toward those cheaper lands where they do not have 
to bid against competent, but only against incompetent, 
farmers. Eventually, however, it is possible that the com- 
petition even here may become so severe as to drive out the 
undesirable element. 

The Standard of Living 

The suggestion that the best lands tend to get into the hands 
of the best farmers needs qualification. It sometimes looks 
as though they tended to get into the hands of the farmers with 
the cheapest standard of living. It has often been noticed 
and remarked upon that foreign-born farmers are buying out 


our native American farmers, not because the foreigners are 
better farmers, but because they can live more cheaply and 
thus accumulate capital for investment more rapidly. This, 
it is claimed, is merely a triumph of a lower over a higher 
standard of living, and indicates a tendency toward keeping 
farm life on a low level. 

Against this pessimistic view there are two arguments. In 
the first place, during the entire latter third of the nineteenth 
century agriculture was relatively unprofitable in this country. 
This is the period when the displacement of American-born 
by foreign-born farmers was so noticeable. For an American 
of good education and business capacity, who was therefore 
fitted for business or professional life, there is no doubt that 
during that period the city offered better opportunities than 
the country, on the average. The foreigner, unless he were 
a man of unusual education and culture, had to take his choice 
between farming on the one hand, and some form of hand 
labor on the other. To him farming was frequently the only 
attractive opportunity. The reason the American farmer 
was willing to sell out at a price which the foreigner could pay 
was not altogether because the foreigner could make the farm 
pay better, but because the American had opportunities in 
the city which the foreigner did not have, not having yet 
become sufficiently adjusted to the conditions of American 
life. Now that agriculture is becoming more prosperous, 
so that the American-born farmer may have as good oppor- 
tunities in the country as in the city, it remains to be seen 
whether he can be displaced by the foreigner, that is, whether 
he will generally be willing to sell out at a price which the 
foreigner can afford to pay, or whether he will not be willing 
and able to pay as much for land as the foreigner will. In the 
second place, a cheap standard of living is not necessarily an 
efficient one. A more expensive standard, provided it is 
rational, may be more efficient in competition than a cheaper 
one. An expensive standard of living, which includes forms 


of expenditure that minister to mere pride and ostentation, 
or to unwholesome appetites, and does not add to one's intel- 
ligence or working capacity, will handicap one in competition 
with men whose standards of living do not include these 
irrational forms of expenditure. But an expensive standard 
of living, which includes only such forms of expenditure as 
maintain strength and working capacity, stimulate mental 
energy and alertness, and minister to the higher intellectual, 
social, and aesthetic desires, will never handicap any one in 
competition with men of lower standards. One result of a 
competition among standards of living will be, in the long 
run, to rationalize the standards, ehminating those forms of 
expenditure which add nothing, and preserving those which 
add something, to efficiency. This will come about through 
the greater success of those families whose standards of living 
approach most nearly to rationality, and through the lesser 
success of those families whose standards of living depart 
most widely from rationality. When farming becomes suffi- 
ciently profitable to furnish opportunities approximately as 
good as those furnished by the businesses and professions of 
the city, there is no reason why farmers with a high standard 
of living should be displaced by those with a low stan- 
dard, provided the high standard is National, and not one 
which ministers to enervating appetites or mere vanity and 

Rural Sports and Recreations 

Every hard-working student will easily understand how 
essential a reasonable amount of recreation is to the main- 
tenance of a high state of mental and physical efficiency. He 
will then appreciate the statement that a rational standard 
of living must include a reasonable expenditure of time or 
money on recreations: Just what is a reasonable expenditure 
for this purpose may not be easy to determine, though there 
need be no disagreement as to the general principle that too 


little recreation, which produces dullness of body and mind, 
is as bad as too much, which is mere dissipation or waste of 
time, energy, and money. Nor need there be any disagree- 
ment as to the principle that the recreations should be such 
as to appeal to all members of the community. While econ- 
omists generally approve a division of labor in industry, there 
are few who will approve a kind of division of labor which is 
too frequently found in rural communities, where most of the 
men work all the time and never play, while a few loafers 
amuse themselves all the time and never work. 

Rural sports are the natural adjunct of rural festivals as a 
means of maintaining a wholesome and agreeable social life 
in the country. Owing to a natural excitability and tendency 
to excess, Americans have found it difficult to develop dis- 
tinctive rural sports as a permanent and dignified institution 
of rural life, except in a few favored localities. Fox hunting 
and horse racing tend, in this country, to be spoiled as rural 
sports by their affectation by urban magnates in the one case 
and livery-stable toughs in the other. Nothing is finer and 
more dignified than for a group of neighboring, well-to-do 
farmers to unite for a day's hunting, when the purpose is to 
rid the country of vermin; but when a group of townsmen, 
who have learned to ride under a roof in a professional riding 
school, proceed to the country and advertise their solvency 
by chasing a timid fox across the fields, the sight is not cal- 
culated to inspire admiration. Nor is there any sport more 
fitting than for a group of horse-breeding farmers to meet 
for the purpose of testing the speed of their colts in a fair and 
open competition. It is only by such open competition that 
successful horse breeding is made possible. But when horse 
racing degenerates into a mere vaudeville ''stunt," or, as is 
more frequently the case, into a mere opportunity for a group 
of professional gamblers from the purlieus of the livery stables, 
who have been initiated into the mysteries of race-track man- 
agement, to enrich themselves at the expense of the unini- 


tiated, it is not too much to say that it has lost its virtue as 
the inspirer of a wholesome and agreeable social life in the 

In view of the well-known excitability of the American 
temperament, and its tendency to excess, it is important that 
rural sport in this country should be of a character which does 
not lend itself readily to extreme specialization; otherwise 
it will tend to drift into the hands of specialists, who do the 
playing while the public looks on. This produces a spectacle 
rather than a sport. It is also important that there should 
be considerable variety in the forms of sport, in order that as 
many as possible should be able to participate. Of particular 
importance, however, is the requirement that these sports 
should fit into the seasonal character of rural work. City 
work is so uniform that the time for recreation can be evenly 
distributed throughout the year. Short hours with regular 
weekly, biweekly, or monthly half holidays give the city worker 
ample time for wholesome recreation. But since in every 
farming country there are rush seasons, when short hours and 
half holidays would mean a loss of crops, it is obvious that 
recreation time cannot be so evenly diffused. To make up 
for this, it is desirable that during the seasons when work is 
slack there should be regular periods of recreation, and games 
which need not be crowded into a single afternoon. 

This suggests the need also of regular annual festival occa- 
sions, suited to each section of the country and its type of 
agriculture, when there can be a general relaxation from the 
strenuous toil of the rush seasons. In anticipation of such a 
period of jollity, the grinding fatigue of the busy season is 
borne with more patience, particularly by the young people, 
and the work is done more vigorously because more cheerfully. 
Again, there is the possibility of uniting social pleasure with 
rural work to a somewhat greater degree than is now done. 
If the spirit which showed itself among our ancestors in the 
barn raisings, logrollings, and similar occasions could be re- 


stored, it is possible that the present generation could get a 
great deal of social pleasure out of the threshing season and 
other occasions of a similar character. This would seem to 
be the natural time for the harvest home celebration, which 
has been so important an event in all old rural civilizations. 
In former days, however, as the writer can testify, threshing 
was such prodigiously hard work, and a great deal of it was 
so dusty and disagreeable, as to stifle any spirit of jollification 
which might otherwise have arisen. But with the more power- 
ful engines and more highly improved machinery of the present, 
the hardest and most disagreeable part of the work of thresh- 
ing has been eliminated. Under such conditions it is at least 
a theoretical possibility that the threshing season in any neigh- 
borhood might be made a festival occasion, to be participated 
in by women as well as by men — by priest, parson, and school- 
ma'am as well as by the farmers themselves. This, however, 
is only by way of suggestion. 

The Grange 

Of all the organizations which are now contributing on a 
large scale to the social life of rural America, the grange is, at 
the present time, one of the most effective, partly, perhaps, 
because it is organized for the purpose. It is, however, some- 
what exclusive, in that it serves the social needs of its own 
membership rather than those of the whole community. Even 
more exclusive in character are the lodges of the various secret 
and fraternal orders, which also serve the social needs of their 
own members. This brings us face to face with one of the 
most difficult problems in the whole field of rural social econ- 
omy, — Is it possible to maintain a social life except through 
some agency of selection and exclusion? In aristocratic 
countries, where class distinctions are of ancient and historic 
standing, the social life runs pretty definitely within class 
lines, but within those boundaries it runs freely. In demo- 
cratic America, where caste and hereditary class distinctions 


are not allowed, we have not yet become adjusted to the new 
situation, especially in the rural districts; and there is a strong 
tendency toward the formation of groups on the basis of likes 
and dislikes, and for the social life to run within these groups. 
This is clearly a long step in advance of the caste system, or 
of the stratification of society according to aristocratic prin- 
ciples, in that the grouping is based upon something besides 
the accident of birth; but it falls short of a thoroughly demo- 
cratic ideal, according to which social life ought to run freely 
without regard to the boundaries of class, creed, or fraternal 
order. This ideal, however, has not yet been realized, for 
those countries and communities where hereditary aristocracy 
is least in evidence are the places where secret societies and 
fraternal orders are most highly developed and most influen- 
tial. Doubtless they furnish a protection against the dis- 
agreeable obtrusiveness of the mob element in our aggressive 
democracy; but there is danger that their very exclusiveness 
should breed a spirit of snobbishness. 

Shall Rural People Set Their Own Standards, or Shall They 
Imitate City People? 

But all the organizations and agencies which contribute 
to the social life of rural communities will fall short of their 
highest possibilities unless they make rural life socially self- 
supporting, and independent of the standards and fashions 
of the city; unless, in short, they give to the social life of the 
country a character and dignity of its own, instead of being 
a bad copy of city life. So long as country life lacks this 
distinctive character and dignity, so long as country people 
look to the cities for their standards of dress, their social 
habits, and their ideals of propriety, so long will rural social 
life remain unsatisfactory. The domination of the city over 
the country is, in last analysis, a mental or spiritual domina- 
tion. It will end when country people are able to set their 
own standards, when they stop trying to be city people, or 


to be like city people. When they develop a reasonable pride 
in the fact that they are country people, and in their country 
dress, country habits, country customs; and when this pride 
is justified by the inherent sanity and simple, unostentatious 
dignity of their lives, — then we shall have a rural civiliza- 
tion worthy of the name. Unless this result is achieved, many 
of the so-called rural improvements will merely serve to link 
the country to the city and still further increase the domina- 
tion of the latter over the former. If rural free delivery 
does no more than to bring to the farmer the daily paper from 
the city, with its garish advertisements and its neurotic sen- 
sationalism, and if this should develop among country people 
a desire for those forms of excitement which city people seem 
to like and to be willing to pay for, the result will be not to 
diminish but to increase the lure of the city. When the quiet 
and serenity of country life are referred to in such terms as 
lonesomeness and monotony, and the rural free delivery is 
regarded merely as a means of relieving that lonesomeness and 
monotony, the symptoms are not favorable for the develop- 
ment of a wholesome rural life. But if rural free delivery, 
like the rural telephone, is a means of linking one country 
neighborhood with another, of exchanging ideas among country 
people as well as between city and country, if it results in 
the development of an esprit de corps among country people, 
and enables them to develop a social life of their own, all these 
things will help in the building of a worthy rural civilization, 
and in making country life satisfying and agreeable. 

This is a factor of great financial as well as social importance. 
When the city contains everything which country people 
really want, then the city will be the place where country 
people will go to spend their money. If a farmer becomes 
prosperous enough to retire from work, he will go to town to 
live; he will buy a lot and build a house in the town and spend 
his time and his money there. But if the country contains 
the things which country people want, then the country is 


the place where they will go to spend their money. If the 
farmers who wish to retire from active work would spend in 
the country, on their own farms, for example, the money 
which would be necessary to buy and maintain residences in 
the towns and cities, it would not take very long to make the 
country a most attractive place of residence. Schools, 
churches, library facihties, plumbing, and steam heat can all 
be had in the country as well as in the city. But if people 
cultivate a liking for the noises, the electric displays, the 
large billboards, and other similar delectations of the cities, 
the country can furnish few attractions of this kind to com- 
pete with the city. Country people will continue to move 
cityward, seeking a chance to spend their money for the things 
of their choice. 

It may be supposed that if the country should furnish the 
things which city people really want and are willing to pay 
for, it would contribute to the financial prosperity of the 
country; but this conclusion must not be too hastily reached. 
It must not be imagined that a mere willingness on the part 
of certain townspeople to spend a part of their time and money 
in the country is in itself a mark of genuine appreciation of 
country life, or that it tends to make real farmers, who have 
to make their living at farming, more appreciative of rural 
enjoyments. It is one thing to go to the country once in a 
while to disburden one's self of an accumulation of surplus 
cash, and then return to the city to talk about it; it is quite 
another thing to appreciate the quiet and homely enjoyments 
which lie within the reach of the plain farmer, — enjoyments 
which do not require even an automobile as an accessory. 
Against the idea that the rural-life problem is to be solved by 
a few wealthy capitalists building themselves palatial resi- 
dences in the country and spending a part of their surplus 
time there. Sir Horace Plunkett uses the following weighty 


I am not, so they tell me, up to date in my information; there is a 
marked reversion of feeling upon the town versus the country question; 
the tide of the rural exodus has really turned, as I might have observed 
without going far afield. At many a Long Island home I might see on 
Sunday, weather permitting, the horny-handed son of week-day toil in 
Wall Street, rustically attired, inspecting his Jersey cows and aristocratic 
fowls. These supply a select circle in New York with butter and eggs, 
at a price which leaves nothing to be desired, — imless it be some infor- 
mation as to cost of production. Full justice is done to the new coimtry 
life when the Farmers' Club of New York fulfills its chief function, — the 
annual dinner at Delmonico's. Then agriculture is extolled in fine Vir- 
giUan style, the Hudson villa and the Newport cottage being permitted 
to divide the honors of the rural revival with the Long Island home. 
But to my bucolic intelligence it would seem that against the "back-to- 
the-land " movement of Saturday afternoon the captious critic might set 
the rural exodus of Monday morning.^ 

A few magnificent villas, where wealthy townsmen spend 
the money which they acquire in town, will not help to solve 
the problem of country life for those who have to make their 
living from the soil, except where wealth is combined with 
taste, tact, and sympathy. If these qualities are absent, 
the display of urban magnificence in the country tends rather 
to increase the discontent of the young men and women of 
the neighborhood. It helps to create the impression that the 
only satisfactory way to live in the country is to go to town 
and make a fortune, and then come back to the country to 
spend it. There were many magnificent villas owned by 
Roman magnates in Italy, even in the very worst period of 
rural decline under the Roman Empire. The dominance of 
the city was so complete that the country was never looked 
upon as a place in which to live unless one had a fortune to 
spend there. Aside from its function of furnishing pleasing 
sites for villas, the country was regarded merely as a place 
where the city could get supplies of food. People really lived 
in town. In fact, this dominance of the town over the country 
was one of the characteristics of ancient civilization, though 

^ The Rural Life Problem in the United States (New York, igio), p. 152. 


that dominance was more complete at certain times than at 

On this point the following passages are significant: 

Rome was, in its origin, only a municipality, a corporation. The 
government of Rome was merely the aggregate of the institutions which 
were suited to a population confined within the walls of a city; these 
were municipal institutions, — that is their distinguishing character. This 
was not the case with Rome only. If we turn our attention to Italy at 
this period, we find around Rome nothing but towns. That which was 
then called a people was simply a confederation of towns. The Latin 
people was a confederation of towns. The Etruscans, the Samnites, the 
Sabines, the people of Grsecia Magna, may all be described in the same 

There was at this time no country, — that is to say, the country was 
whoUy unlike that which at present exists; it was cultivated, as was 
necessary, but it was uninhabited. The proprietors of lands were the in- 
habitants of the towns. They went forth to superintend their country 
properties, and often took with them a certain number of slaves; but 
that which we at present call the country, that thin population — some- 
times in isolated habitations, sometimes in villages — which everywhere 
covers the soil, was a fact almost unknown in ancient Italy. 

When Rome extended herself, what did she do? Follow history, and 
you will see that she conquered or founded towns; it was against towns 
that she fought, with towns that she contracted alhances; it was also into 
towns that she sent colonies. The history of the conquest of the world 
by Rome is the history of the conquest and foundation of a great num- 
ber of towns. . . . 

In Gaul, in Spain, you meet with nothing but towns. At a distance 
from the towns the territory is covered with marshes and forests. 
Examine the character of the Roman monuments, of the Roman roads. 
You have great roads, which reach from one city to another; the multi- 
plicity of the minor roads, which now cross the country in all directions, 
was then unknown; you have nothing resembling that countless number 
of villages, country seats, and churches, which have been scattered over 
the country since the Middle Ages. Rome has left us nothing but im- 
' mensc monuments, stamped with the municipal character, and destined 
for a numerous population collected upon one spot. Under whatever 
point of view you consider the Roman world, you will find this almost 
exclusive preponderance of towns and the social nonexistence of the 

^ Guizot, P., The History of CmUzation (London, 1856), Vol. I, pp 27-29. 


The establishment of the feudal system produced one of these modifi- 
cations, of unmistakable importance; it altered the distribution of the 
population over the face of the land. Hitherto the masters of the soil, 
the sovereign population, had lived united in more or less numerous 
masses of men, whether sedentarily in cities, or wandering in bands 
through the country. In consequence of the feudal system these same 
men lived isolated, each in his own habitation, and at great distances 
from one another. You will immediately perceive how much influence 
this change was calculated to exercise upon the character and course of 
civilization. The social preponderance, the government of society, passed 
suddenly from the towns to the country; private property became of 
more importance than public property; private life than public life. 
Such was the first and purely material effect of the triumph of feudal 
society. The further we examine into it, the more will the consequence 
of this single fact be unfolded to our eyes.^ 

Elsewhere Guizot points out the well-known fact that the 
rise of modern civilization is again reversing the order and 
tending to concentrate population, wealth, and power in the 
cities, and to emphasize urban rather than rural ideals. 

Farming vs. Talking as a Field for Ambition 

One striking evidence of the general dominance of urban 
over rural ideals in America is the almost total indifference 
of our people to agriculture as a field of distinguished achieve- 
ment. Great efficiency in the practical application of science 
to agriculture, or in the organization of the factors of agri- 
cultural production, are recognized in the abstract by every 
thoughtful person as of the highest possible value to the coun- 
try as a whole; but in the concrete we pay very little attention 
to it. The ancient remark about the value of the man who 
makes two blades of grass to grow where one had grown before, 
as compared with the politician (or the talker), we approve' 
in a general way, but specifically we think a great deal more 
of the talker. The man who applies great executive ability 
and scientific knowledge to agriculture may get good crops 

^ Guizot, F., The History of Civilization (London, 1856), Vol. I, p. 68. 


and make profit for himself; he may also win local recogni- 
tion, particularly among farmers; but unless he talks or 
writes about it, he does not gain general recognition among 
the people at large. In proof of this, let any one look through 
Who^s Who in America, which is supposed to contain the names 
of those who have achieved marked success in every large 
field of human endeavor. Judging by its pages, either agri- 
culture is not a large field of human endeavor, or else there are 
no markedly successful farmers. Choosing those states in 
which agriculture is commonly supposed to be a large field of 
endeavor, we find in the edition of 1 908-1 909 almost no farmers. 
The number of distinguished persons connected with agri- 
culture and allied fields of work is as follows: 

Maine, i farmer-manufacturer, i horticulturist (at the State University) 

Ohio, I agricultural educator, i agriculturist 

Indiana, i arboriculturist 

Illinois, I farmer 

Iowa, I forester, i horticulturist (both in the State CoUege at Ames), 

I breeder, i farmer 
Kansas, i stockman, i i<-uit grower 
Nebraska, i agricultural educator, i forester, i farmer 

This lack of recognition of the farmer is not, of course, 
the fault of the editors of Who's Who. They include in their 
publication only the names which are widely known or talked 
about. The fact that an eminently successful farmer is not 
widely known or talked about is due to the fact that our 
people have no interest in that kind of achievement. 

Another proof of the same thing is the fact that almost no 
farmer has secured, in recent years, any political recognition. 
Even Mr. Roosevelt, with all his enthusiasm for rural uplift, 
consistently preferred the man who talked about farming to 
the man who did the work of farming. His Rural Life Com- 
mission, for example, was an excellent commission, but it was 
not made up of farmers, but of eminent men who had talked 
a great deal and very wisely about agriculture and the prob- 


lems connected with it. This helps to explain why farmers 
were generally so skeptical as to the results of the commission's 

So long as men are so constituted as to crave distinction and 
wide public esteem, so long will they tend to avoid an occu- 
pation which seems to furnish no opportunities in that direc- 
tion. Until our esteem for the farmer ceases to be merely 
an approval of farming in the abstract, and begins to show 
itself in the form of an appreciation of the individual farmer 
and his particular achievement, we shall not accomplish very 
much in the way of checking the movement of the more am- 
bitious youths toward the city. 

Absentee Landlordism 

Next to war, pestilence, and famine, the worst thing that 
can happen to a rural community is absentee landlordism. 
In the first place, the rent is all collected and sent out of the 
neighborhood to be spent somewhere else; but that is the 
least of the evils. In the second place, there is no one in 
the neighborhood who has any permanent interest in it except 
as a source of income. The tenants do not feel like spending 
any time or money in beautification, or in improving the 
moral or social surroundings. Their one interest is to get as 
large an income from the land as they can in the immediate 
present. Because they do not live there, the landlords care 
nothing for the community, except as a source of rent, and 
they will not spend anything in local improvements unless 
they see that it will increase rent. Therefore such a com- 
munity looks bad, and possesses the legal minimum in the 
way of schools, churches, and other agencies for social improve- 
ment. In the third place, and worst of all, the landlords and 
tenants live so far apart and see one another so infrequently 
as to furnish very little opportunity for mutual acquaintance 
and understanding. Therefore class antagonism arises, and 
bitterness of feeling shows itself in a variety of ways. Where 


the whole neighborhood is made up of a tenant class which 
feels hostile toward the absent-landlord class, evasions of 
all kinds are resorted to in order to beat the hated landlords. 
On the other hand, the landlords are goaded to retaliation, 
and the rack-rent system prevails. Sometimes the community 
feeling among tenants becomes so strong as to develop a kind 
of artificial "tenant right," which is in opposition to the laws 
of the land, and the laws of the land are then made more severe 
in order to control the "tenant right." ^ 

Even where the class antagonism is not carried to this 
extreme, there is a wasteful expenditure of human energy 
in the efforts of one class to circumvent the other, and the 
attractiveness and dignity of rural life are destroyed by the 
jealousy and rancor thus created. 

In this country we are accustomed to look \\ath disfavor 
upon any system of tenancy; but whatever may be said of 
tenancy as such, there is not the slightest doubt that the worst 
possible system is that under which the landowner lives at 
a distance and maintains no connection with the land except 
as a receiver of rent. Where the landlord lives upon his own 
estate and takes an interest in it, the worst features of tenancy 
disappear. The landowner's interest in his ovv-n home creates 
in him an attitude toward the rural neighborhood which is 
quite different from that of the absentee. 

The Resideyit Landlord as Leader 

Besides, there are some advantages in a system which gives 
the large landowner a chance to devote his time to broad 

^ In some parts of France, under the old regime, the tenants would 
combine to fix rents and to prevent newcomers from renting land. The 
tenant would even sell his "right," or bequeath it to his son, very much as 
though he o^vned the land. Any one else who would lease the land so 
bequeathed, or interfere with the son's possession, would be liable to injury 
or murder. The laws of the country were ineffective against this deter- 
mined stand of the tenants. 


schemes of improvement while his tenants are completely 
occupied with the immediate problem of growing crops. This 
is the one serious disadvantage of the American type of agri- 
culture under which the land is owned by small- or medium- 
scale farmers who do their own w^ork. No one has the time 
or the surplus capital to carry on elaborate experimenting, 
extensive drainage operations, or similar large-scale improve- 
ments. Under the English system the large landed proprietors 
have led in most of these progressive movements, without 
waiting for a general public awakening. In the United States, 
and other countries of small proprietors, these enterprises 
have been carried on either by the state or by cooperative 
enterprises. These methods are excellent in themselves, 
but they are necessarily slower than the English method, for 
the simple and sufficient reason that the general public is 
always slower than a few of its most intelligent individuals. 
At the present time, in the United States, the federal Depart- 
ment of Agriculture, the state agricultural colleges, and the 
experiment stations are carrying on this kind of work on a 
more elaborate scale than is possible for a group of individual 
proprietors, however large their estates, though much pioneer 
work was done on great English estates. 

Another advantage of the tenancy system, as it exists in 
England, is that it furnishes a kind of organization of agri- 
cultural interests, — or at least a very good substitute for 
organization. A great landowner living on his estate, and 
interested in its prosperity, is a natural leader and organizer 
of the rural community consisting of his tenants. It is every- 
where recognized in the United States that the great difficulty 
in the way of organization of rural communities is the lack of 
leaders. If this difficulty is still further accentuated by a 
feeling of jealousy, as is too frequently the case, among the 
farmers of a neighborhood, the problem of organization is 
well-nigh insoluble. Unless the country church can remove 
this feeling of jealousy and suspicion by the effective preach- 


ing of a gospel of brotherhood, it is difficult to see what can 
be done for such a neighborhood. With the well-known 
efficiency of our agricultural colleges and experiment stations, 
and of our national Department of Agriculture, we have done 
a great deal to remove the one disadvantage of the system of 
detached, one-family farming. If we can, in addition, bring 
about an effective organization of our rural interests, we shall 
have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of 
the system of tenancy under large proprietors. 

Organization for a Purpose, or Organization for its 
Own Sake 

It is extremely unlikely that any effective or permanent 
organization of rural interests can ever be brought about 
without some pretty definite object to be accomplished. 
Organization for organization's sake is a poor program. Again, 
it is extremely unlikely that any single object, or group of 
objects, can be made the basis of a national organization. Our 
agricultural interests are too diverse for that. All attempts 
to form a general homogeneous organization of the farmers 
of the country will probably fail, as they have hitherto. This 
points unmistakably to the organization of local interests 
for definite purposes. When several farmers in a certain 
locality have a clear and definite purpose to accomplish, they 
have no difficulty in organizing for that purpose. One of the 
best examples of this is the California Fruit Growers Exchange. 
A large number of fruit growers, seeing that they must organize 
their marketing arrangements or become bankrupt, had a 
sufficient motive. The question of leadership solves itself 
under such conditions. The man who knows how to do what 
everybody wants done is a leader by the only kind of divine 
right, — namely, natural fitness. An illustration of the same 
principle on a smaller scale is furnished by the farmers of a 
certain New Hampshire township, who needed a market. 


They organized and opened a store in Cambridge, Massa- 
chusetts, to which they sent their produce. In this case the 
leader was a country pastor. A multitude of other examples, 
large and small, could be named, all illustrating the same 
principle, namely, that the organization must be local to begin 
with, and that it must have a clear and definite object to 

The organization of rural interests need not, however, 
remain local and scattered. They may be federated. Those 
who are interested in rural organization may well take lessons 
from the organizers of the labor movement. The attempt to 
form a general, homogeneous organization of all laboring 
men had a promising beginning in the Knights of Labor, 
but it lacked the element of definiteness and of local unity. 
Its influence, therefore, waned rapidly, whereas the American 
Federation of Labor rose to great prominence, power, and 
influence. Organizing local unions among members of each 
separate trade, and then federating these unions, leaving to 
each a great deal of independence and local autonomy, this 
movement has proceeded on sound principles of organiza- 
tion. This points to the principle of federation as the correct 
one upon which to attempt the general organization of rural 
interests. A beginning is already made in the various local 
and special organizations scattered over the country. If 
these can be federated into state and national organizations, 
leaving each local body independent and autonomous, at 
least so far as its own special objects are concerned, a move- 
ment may be started which will do for farmers what the Amer- 
ican Federation of Labor has done for wageworkers, though 
the active program need not be the same. 

It cannot be too much emphasized, however, that any 
organization whose objects are not constructive, and designed 
to promote the welfare of the country as a whole, is foredoomed 
to ultimate failure, because it ought to fail. It is for the 
interest of the country as a whole that the supply of fruit 


should be adjusted to the demand, and that there should not 
be a glut in one market while there is a scarcity in another, 
A fruit-growers' exchange, by organizing the shipping and 
selling of its fruit so as to bring about a more uniform and 
equal adjustment of the supply to the demand, is performing 
a productive function for the country as a whole, and deserves 
success. When it begins to abuse its power and, instead of 
adjusting the supply to the demand, undertakes merely to 
charge monopoly prices, it will deserve to fail, and will even- 
tually fail. The same may be said of an organization of dairy- 
men, market gardeners, cotton growers, etc. However, it 
is not necessary that such organizations should be philan- 
thropic. On the contrary, it is probably better that they 
should be strictly self-interested; but it is essential that self- 
interest should be followed in economic rather than in un- 
economic ways, as these terms were defined in Chapter I. 
To attempt to promote one's self-interest in a way which 
contributes to the productivity of the whole country is to 
deserve success; to attempt to promote it in any other way 
is to deserve failure. That is why cooperative enterprises, 
when actuated by mere jealousy of some storekeeper, or of 
any one else who is doing useful and honest work, usually 
fail. But cooperative enterprises which attempt something 
constructive, like the starting of a new industry, the opening 
of a new market, or the prevention of real waste, and are 
therefore actuated by a higher motive than hate or jealousy, 
are usually successful, and redound to the interest and profit 
of the participants. 

This part of our discussion may be summed up by saying 
that until our rural interests become organized our rural life 
will continue to be dominated by urban interests, urban 
standards, urban ideals, and that this will leave rural life in 
a weak and undignified position. Furthermore, it will not 
be easy to organize rural interests in any single homogeneous 
organization, because our agricultural interests are too diverse 


and heterogeneous; but the organization must proceed through 
the formation of local associations having definite, tangible, 
and constructive aims, and the gradual federation of these 
local organizations into a general organization combining 
unity and solidarity with diversity and local autonomy. 


Sir Horace Plunkett 

In no way is the contrast between rural and urban civiliza- 
tion more marked than in the application of the teachings of 
modern science to their respective industries. Even the most 
important mechanical inventions were rather forced upon the 
farmer by the efficient selling organization of the city manu- 
facturers than demanded by him as a result of good instruction 
in farming. On the mammoth wheat farms, where, as the 
fable ran, the plough that started out one morning returned 
on the adjoining furrow the following day, mechanical science 
was indeed called in, but only to perpetrate the greatest 
soil robbery in agricultural history. Application of science 
to legitimate agriculture is comparatively new. In my ranch- 
ing and farming days I well remember how general was the 
disbelief in its practical value throughout the Middle and Far 
West. In cowboy terminology, all scientists were classified 
as "bug-hunters," and farmers generally had no use for the 
theorist. The non-agricultural community had naturally 
no higher appreciation of the farmer's calling than he himself 
displayed. When some Universities first developed agricul- 
tural courses, the students who entered for them were nick- 
named "aggies," and were not regarded as adding much to the 
dignity of a seat of higher learning. The Department of 
Agriculture was looked upon as a source of jobs, graft being 
the nearest approach to any known agricultural operation. 

^ Copyright. Reprinted from The Rural Life Problem of the United 
Stales by permission of the Macmillan Company. 


All this is changing fast. The Federal Department of 
Agriculture is now perhaps the most popular and respected of 
the world's great administrative institutions. In the Middle 
West, a newly awakened public opinion has set up an honour- 
able rivalry between such States as Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, 
Nebraska and Minnesota, in developing the agricultural 
sides of their Universities and Colleges. None the less, Mr. 
James J. Hill has recently given it as his opinion that not more 
than one per cent of the farmers of these regions are working 
in direct touch with any educational institution. It is prob- 
able that this estimate leaves out of account the indirect 
influence of the vast amount of extension work and itinerant 
instruction which is embraced in the activities of the Univer- 
sities and Colleges. I fear it cannot be denied that in the 
application of the natural sciences to the practical, and of 
economic science to the business of farming, the country folk 
are decades behind their urban fellow-citizens. And again 
I say the disparity is to be attributed to the difference in their 
respective degrees of organization for business purposes. 

The relation between business organization and economic 
progress ought, I submit, to be very seriously considered by 
the social workers who perceive that progress is mainly a 
question of education. Speaking from administrative experi- 
ence at home, and from a good deal of interested observation 
in America, I am firmly convinced that the new rural educa- 
tion is badly handicapped by the lack of organized bodies of 
farmers to act as channels for the new knowledge now made 
available. In some instances, I am aware, great good has 
been done by the formation of farmers' institutes which have 
been established in order to interest rural communities in 
educational work and to make the local arrangements for 
instruction by lectures, demonstrations, and otherwise. But 
all European experience proves the superiority for this pur- 
pose of the business association (which, by the way, has a 
much better permanence) to the organization ad hoc. 


Again, the influence upon rural life of the agricultural 
teaching of the Colleges and Universities, as exercised to 
their pupils, may be too easily accepted as being of greater 
potential utility than any work which these institutions can 
do amongst adults. This is a mistake. The thousands of 
young men who are now being trained for advanced farming 
too often have to restrict the practical application of their 
theoretic knowledge to the home circle, which is not always 
responsive, for a man is not usually a prophet in his own 
family. It is here that the educational value of co5perative 
societies comes in; they act as agencies through which scien- 
tific teaching may become actual practice, not in the uncertain 
future, but in the living present. A cooperative association 
has a quality which should commend it to the social reformer 
— the power of evoking character; it brings to the front a 
new type of local leader, not the best talker, but the man whose 
knowledge enables him to make some solid contribution to 
the welfare of the community. 

I come now to the last part of the threefold scheme — that 
which aims at a better life upon the farm. The cooperative 
association, in virtue of its non-capitalistic basis of constitu- 
tion and procedure (which, as I have explained, distinguishes 
it from the joint stock company), demands as a condition of 
its business success the exercise of certain social qualities of 
inestimable value to the community life. It is for this reason, 
no doubt, that where men and women have learned to work 
together under this system in the business of their lives, they 
are easily induced to use their organization for social and 
intellectual purposes also. 

The new organization of the rural community for social 
as well as economic purposes, which would follow from the 
acceptance of the opinion I have advanced, would bring 
with it the first effective counter-attraction to the towns. 
Their material advantages the country cannot hope to rival; 
nor can any conceivable evolution of rural life furnish a real 


counterpart to the cheap and garish entertainments of the 
modern city. Take, for example, the extravagant use of 
electric light for purposes of advertisement, which affords 
a nightly display of fireworks in any active business street 
of an American city far superior to the occasional exhibition 
at the Crystal Palace in London, which was the rare treat of 
my childhood days. These delights — if such they be — cannot 
be extended into remote villages in Kansas or Nebraska; but 
their enchantment must be reckoned with by those who would 
remold the life of the open country and make it morally and 
mentally satisfying to those who are born to it, or who, but for 
its social stagnation, would prefer a rural to an urban existence. 

In one of his many public references to country life, Presi- 
dent Roosevelt attributed the rural exodus to the desire of 
"the more active and restless young man and woman" to 
escape from "loneliness and lack of mental companionship." 
He is hopeful that the rural free delivery, the telephone, the 
bicycle and the trolley will do much towards "lessening the 
isolation of farm life and making it brighter and more attract- 
ive." Many to whom I have spoken on this subject fear 
that the linking of the country with the town by these applica- 
tions of modern science may, to some extent, operate in a 
direction the opposite of that which Mr. Roosevelt anticipates 
and desires. According to this view, the more intimate 
knowledge of the modern city may increase the desire to be 
in personal touch with it; the telephone may fail to give 
through the ear the satisfaction which is demanded by the 
eye; among the "more active and restless young men and 
women" the rural free delivery may circulate the dime novel 
and the trolley make accessible the dime museum. In the 
total result the occasional visit may become more and more 
frequent, until the duties of country life are first neglected 
and then abandoned. 

I do not feel competent to decide between these two views, 
but I offer one consideration with which I think many rural 


reformers will agree. The attempt to bring the advantages 
of the city within the reach of the dwellers in the country 
cannot, of itself, counteract the townward tendency in so 
far as it is due to the causes summarized above. However 
rapidly, in this respect, the country may be improved, the 
city is sure to advance more rapidly and the gap between 
them to be widened. The new rural civilization should aim 
at trying to develop in the country the things of the country, 
the very existence of which seems to have been forgotten. 
But, after all, it is the world within us rather than the world 
without us that matters in the making of society, and I must 
give to the social influence of the cooperative idea what I 
believe to be its real importance. 

In Ireland, from which so much of my experience is drawn, 
we have found a tendency growing among farmers whose 
combinations are successful, to gather into one strong local 
association all those varied objects and activities which I 
have described as advocated by the Irish Agricultural Organ- 
ization Society. These local associations are ceasing to have 
one special purpose or one object only. They absorb more 
and more of the business of the district. One large, well- 
organized institution is being substituted for the numerous 
petty transactions of farmers with middlemen and small 
country traders. Gradually the Society becomes the most 
important institution in the district, the most important in 
a social as well as in an economic sense. The members feel 
a pride in its material expansion. They accumulate large 
profits, which in time become a kind of communal fund. In 
some cases this is used for the erection of village halls where 
social entertainments, concerts and dances are held, lectures 
delivered and libraries stored. Finally, the association 
assumes the character of a rural commune, where, instead of 
the old basis of the commune, the joint ownership of land, 
a new basis for union is found in the voluntary communism 
of effort. 


A true social organism is thus being created with common 
human and economic interests, and the clan feeling, which 
was so powerful an influence in early and medieval civiliza- 
tions, with all its power of generating passionate loyalties, 
is born anew in the modern world. Our ancient Irish records 
show little clans with a common ownership of land hardly 
larger than a parish, but with all the patriotic feeling of large 
nations held with an intensity rare in our modern states. 
The history of these clans and of very small nations like the 
ancient Greek states shows that the social feeling assumes its 
most binding and powerful character where the community 
is large enough to allow free play to the various interests of 
human life, but is not so large that it becomes an abstraction 
to the imagination. Most of us feel no greater thrill in being 
one of a State with fifty million inhabitants than we do in 
recognizing we are citizens of the solar system. The rural 
commune and the very small States exhibit the feeling of 
human solidarity in its most intense manifestations, working 
on itself, regenerating itself and seeking its own perfection. 
Combinations of agriculturists, when the rural organization 
is complete, re-create in a new way the conditions where 
these social instincts germinate best, and it is only by this 
complete organization of rural life that we can hope to build 
up a rural civilization, and create those counter-attractions 
to urban life which will stay the exodus from the land. 

I do not wish to exaggerate even the interest which the 
rural life of my own little island may have for those who are 
concerned for the vast and wealthy expanses of the American 
farm lands. But, even in the United States, I have seen the 
really simple life, which in its commonest manifestation is a 
thing that rather simple people talk about. In a properly 
organized rural neighborhood could be developed that higher 
kind of attraction which is suggested by the very word neigh- 
bourhood. Once get the farmers and their families all working 
together at something that concerns them all, and we have 


the beginning of a more stable and a more social community 
than is likely to exist amid the constant change and bustle 
of the large towns, where indeed some thinkers tell us that 
not only the family, but also the social life, is badly breaking 
down. When people are really interested in each other — 
and this interest comes of habitually working together — 
the smallest personal traits or events affecting one are of 
interest to all. The simplest piece of amateur acting or 
singing, done in the village hall by one of the villagers, will 
arouse more criticism and more enthusiasm among his friends 
and neighbours than can be excited by the most consummate 
performance of a professional in a great city theatre, where 
no one in the audience knows or cares for the performer. 

But if this attraction — the attraction of common work 
and social intercourse with a circle of friends — is to prevail 
in the long run over the lure which the city offers to eye and 
ear and pocket, there must be a change in rural education. 
At present country children are educated as if for the purpose 
of driving them into the towns. To the pleasure which the 
cultured city man feels in the country — because he has been 
taught to feel it — the country child is insensible. The 
country offers continual interest to the mind which has been 
trained to be thoughtful and observant; the town offers 
continual distraction to the vacant eye and brain. Yet, the 
education given to country children has been invented for 
them in the town, and it not only bears no relation to the 
life they are to lead, but actually attracts them towards a 
town career. I am aware that I am here on ground where 
angels — even if specialized in pedagogy — may well fear to 
tread. Upon the principles of a sound agricultural educa- 
tion pedagogues are in a normally violent state of disagree- 
ment with each other. But whatever compromise between 
general education and technical instruction be adopted, the 
resulting reform that is needed has two sides. We want two 
changes in the rural mind — not omitting the rural teacher's 


mind. First, the interest which the physical environment 
of the farmer provides to followers of almost every branch 
of science must be communicated to the agricultural classes 
according to their capacities. Second, that intimacy with 
and affection for nature, to which Wordsworth has given the 
highest expression, must in some way be engendered in the 
rural mind. In this way alone will the countryman come to 
realize the beauty of the life around him, as through the teach- 
ing of silence he will learn to realize its truth. 

Upon this reformed education, as a basis, the rural economy 
must be built. It must, if my view be accepted, ensure, first 
and foremost, the combination of farmers for business pur- 
poses in such a manner as will enable them to control their 
own marketing and make use of the many advantages which 
a command of capital gives. In all European countries — 
with the exception of the British Isles — statesmen have 
recognized the national necessity for the good business organ- 
ization of the farmer. In some cases, for example France, 
even Government officials expound the cooperative principle. 
In Denmark, the most predominantly rural country in Europe, 
the education both in the common and in the high school 
has long been so admirably related to the working lives of 
the agricultural classes that the people adopt spontaneously 
the methods of organization which the commercial instinct 
they have acquired through education tells them to be suit- 
able to the conditions. The rural reformer knows that this 
is the better way; but our problem is not merely the educa- 
tion of a rising, but the development of a grown-up generation. 
We cannot wait for the slow process of education to produce 
its effect upon the mind of the rural youth, even if there were 
any way of ensuring their proper training for a progressive 
rural life without first giving to their parents such education 
as they can assimilate. Direct action is called for; we have 
to work with adult farmers and induce them to reorganize 
their business upon the lines which I have attempted to define. 


Moreover, this is essential to the future success of the work 
done in the schools, in order that the trained mind of youth 
may not afterwards find itself balked by the ignorant apathy 
or lazy conservatism of its elders. 

I hold, then, that the new economy will mean a more sci- 
entific mastery of the technical side of farming, when farmers 
will make a much larger use of the advice, instruction and 
help which the Nation and the States ofifer them through the 
Department of Agriculture and the Colleges. It is equally 
certain that there will arise a more human social life in the 
rural districts, based upon the greater share of the products 
of the farmer's industry, which the new business organization 
will enable him to retain; stimulated by the closer business 
relations with his fellows which that organization will bring 
about, and fostered by the closer neighbourhood which is 
implied in a more extensive cultivation. 

The development of a more intensive cultivation must carry 
with it a much more careful consideration of the labour prob- 
lem. The difficulty of getting and keeping labour on the 
farm is a commonplace. I think farmers have not faced the 
fact that this difficulty is due in the main to their own way 
of doing their business. Competent men will not stay at farm 
labour unless it offers them continuous employment as part 
of a well-ordered business concern; and this is not possible 
unless with a greatly improved husbandry. 

To-day agriculture has to compete in the labour market 
against other, and to many men more attractive, industries, 
and a marked elevation in the whole standard of life in the 
rural world is the best insurance of a better supply of good 
farm labour. Only an intensive system of farming can afford 
any large amount of permanent employment at decent wages 
to the rural labourer, and only a good supply of competent 
labour can render intensive farming on any large scale prac- 
ticable. But the intensive system of farming not only gives 
regular employment and good wages; it also fits the labourer 


of to-day — in a country where a man can strike out for him- 
self — to be the successful farmer of to-morrow. Nor, in 
these days of impersonal industrial relations, should the fact 
be overlooked that under an intensive system of agriculture, 
we find still preserved the kindly personal relation between 
employer and employed which contributes both to the pleas- 
antness of life and to economic progress and security. 

Moreover, in a country where advanced farming is the rule, 
there is a remarkable, and, from the standpoint of national 
stability, most valuable, steadiness in employment. Good 
farming, by fixing the labourer on the soil, improves the 
general condition of rural life, by ridding the countryside of 
most of its present pests. Those wandering dervishes of 
the industrial world, the hobo, the tramp — the entire family 
of Weary Willies and Tired Timothys — will no longer have 
even an imaginary excuse for their troubled and troublesome 
existence. But the farmer who was the prey of these pests 
must, if he would be permanently rid of them, learn to respect 
his hired farm hand. He must provide him with a com- 
fortable and a modest garden plot upon which his young 
family may employ themselves; otherwise, whatever the 
farmer may do to attract labour, he will never retain it. In 
short, the labourer, too, must get his full and fair share of 
the prosperity of the coming good time in the country. 

There is one particular aspect of this improved social life 
which is so important that it ought properly to form the sub- 
ject of a separate essay; I mean the position of women in 
rural life. In no country in the world is the general position 
of woman better, or her influence greater, than in the United 
States. But while woman has played a great part there in 
the social life and economic development of the town, I hold 
that the part she is destined to play in the future making of 
the country will be even greater. 

In the more intelligent scheme of the new country life, 
the economic position of woman is likely to be one of high 


importance. She enters largely into all three parts of our 
programme, — better farming, better business, better living. 
In the development of higher farming, for instance, she is 
better fitted than the more muscular but less patient animal, 
man, to carry on with care that work of milk records, egg 
records, etc., which underlies the selection on scientific lines 
of the more productive strains of cattle and poultry. And 
this kind of work is wanted in the study not only of animal, 
but also of plant life. 

Again, in the sphere of better business, the housekeeping 
faculty of woman is an important asset, since a good system 
of farm accounts is one of the most valuable aids to successful 
farming. But it is, of course, in the third part of the pro- 
gramme — better living, — that woman's greatest opportunity 
lies. The woman makes the home life of the Nation. But 
she desires also social life, and where she has the chance she 
develops it. Here it is that the establishment of the coopera- 
tive society, or union, gives an opening and a range of con- 
ditions in which the social usefulness of woman makes itself 
quickly felt. I do not think that I am laying too much stress 
on this matter, because the pleasures, the interests and the 
duties of society, properly so called, — that is, the state of 
living on friendly terms with our neighbours, — are always more 
central and important in the life of a woman than of a man. 
The man needs them, too, for without them he becomes a mere 
machine for making money, but the woman, deprived of them, 
tends to become a mere drudge. The new rural society economy 
(which implies a denser population occupying smaller holdings) 
must therefore include a generous provision for all those forms 
of social intercourse which specially appeal to women. The 
Women's Sections of the Granges have done a great deal of 
useful work in this direction; we need a more general and 
complete application of the principles on which they act. 

I have now stated the broad principles which must govern 
any effective scheme for correcting the present harmful sub- 


ordination of rural life to a civilization too exclusively urban. 
Before I bring forward my definite proposal for a remedy 
calculated to meet the needs of the situation, I must antici- 
pate a line of criticism which may occur to the mind of any 
social worker who does not happen to be very familiar with 
the conditions of country life. 

I can well imagine readers who have patiently followed 
my arguments wishing to interrogate me in some such terms 
as these: "Assuming," they may say, "that we accept all 
you tell us about the neglect of the rural population, and agree 
as to the grave consequences which must follow if it be con- 
tinued, what on earth can we do? Of course the welfare 
of the rural population is a matter of paramount importance 
to the city and to the nation at large; but may we remind 
you that you said the evil and the consequences can be removed 
and averted only by those immediately concerned — the actual 
farmers — and that the remedy for the rural backwardness 
was to be sought in the rural mind? " Canst thou minister to 
a mind diseased?. Must not the patient 'minister' to himself?" 

Fair questions these, and altogether to the point. I answer 
at once that the patient ought to minister to himself, but he 
won't. He has acquired the habit of sending for the physi- 
cian of the town, whose physic but aggravates the disease. 
Dropping metaphor, the farmer does not think for himself. 
In rural communities, there is as great a lack of collective 
thought as of cooperative action. All progress is conditional 
on public opinion, and this, even in the country, is a very much 
town-made thing. 

So I am, then, in this difl&culty. My subject is rural, my 
audience urban. I have to commend to the statesmen and 
the philanthropists of the town the somewhat incongruous 
proposal that they should take the initiative in rural reform. 
Neither the thought nor the influence which can set in motion 
what in agricultural communities is no less than an economic 
revolution are to be found in the open country. 


Myron T. Herrick 

The importance of agriculture as an economic and social 
factor is not a newly discovered fact. As long ago as 1859, 
in a speech before the Wisconsin Agricultural Society, 
Abraham Lincoln said, "Population must increase rapidly, 
more rapidly than in former times and ere long the most val- 
uable of all arts will be the art of deriving a comfortable sub- 
sistence from the smallest area of soil. No community 
whose every member possesses this art can ever be the victim 
of oppression in any of its forms. Such community will be 
alike independent of crowned kings, money kings, and land 

Unfortunately, perhaps the truth contained in Lincoln's 
words was not sufi&ciently well appreciated to modify the course 
of the economic development of the country. Nations, like 
individuals, are accustomed to regard lightly those things that 
are easily acquired. Conditions in this country always have 
been so favorable to agriculture that it has been accepted as 
an industry needing little encouragement. On the other 
hand, manufacturing and commerce did not seem to possess 
the inherent qualities of self-development, and, as a result, 
the economic policy of the country has been consciously 
framed to build up these industries, — not exactly at the 
expense of agriculture, but at least with the consequence of 
diverting the attention of the people from the danger of neg- 
lecting farming interests. Consequently, the industry of 

^ From The Atlantic Monthly, vol. cxi, pp. 170-178. Reprinted by 
permission of the author and the publishers. 


cultivating the soil has been left to develop along the lines 
of least resistance, — that of seizing temporary profits, with- 
out regard to future possibilities. The complaisant indif- 
ference with which agricultural development has been regarded 
has had its logical result. Agriculture has failed to progress 
with anywhere near the rapidity with which the population 
of the country and the demand for food-products have 

From 1900 to 1910 the population of the United States 
increased twenty-one per cent; during the same period the 
number of farms increased only ten and five-tenths per cent; 
which indicates that, in the ten years, rural population increased 
about one-half as much as the total population. In 1909 
the per-capita production of cereals was only forty-nine 
and one-tenth bushels; in 1899 it was fifty-eight and four- 
tenths, — a decrease of nine bushels per head in ten years. 
Between 1899 and 1909 the aggregate production of cereals 
increased only one and seven-tenths per cent, but their market 
value was higher by seventy-nine and eight-tenths per cent 
in 1909 than in 1899, — the increase in price being forty- 
seven times the increase in quantity. In 1909 there was one 
farm for every thirteen and two-tenths persons; in 1910 
there was one farm for every fourteen and five-tenths persons. 
On the average, therefore, each farm now has to furnish food 
for more than one more person than in 1900. In 1900, there 
were five and five-tenths acres of improved farm land per 
capita of population; by 19 10 the per-capita improved acre- 
age had declined to five and two-tenths acres. 

These figures make it clear why the exports of food-stuffs in 
crude condition, and food animals, have decreased from 
$227,300,000 or 16.59 per cent of the total exports, for the 
fiscal year of 1900 to $99,900,000, or only 4.6 per cent of the 
total for the fiscal year of 191 2; and why similar imports 
have increased from $68,700,000 in 1900, to $180,120,000 in 
191 2. Of course the splendid crops of this year will, for the 


time being, alter the tendency of imports of foodstuffs to 
increase and of exports to decrease, but unfortunately experi- 
ence indicates that another bumper crop is not likely for 
several years. Regardless of other influences the increasing 
disparity between the supply of and demand for foodstuffs, 
as shown by the foregoing data, would seem almost to furnish 
an adequate explanation for the fact that on October i, 191 2, 
Bradstreet's index number of prices made a new high record 

of $9.4515- 

Surprising as it may seem, it is within the last few years that 
the people of the United States have recognized the danger 
that lies in the increasing prices of food. The uneasiness 
with which the rise in the prices of necessities is now regarded 
is amply justified, for if there is a further considerable advance, 
a lowering of the standard of living of a great number of the 
American people, with its certain inimical consequences to 
the quality of our citizenship, is bound to occur. It is largely 
the apprehension of this possibility that has impelled the 
national government, the states, various associations, and 
individuals, to undertake the promotion of scientific farming, 
to the end that the output of the farms of this country may 
be raised to a maximum consistent with economic production 
and the conservation of the vital qualities of the soil. Edu- 
cational activity of this sort is excellent and necessary, and 
should, if possible, be continued with greater enthusiasm. 
However agriculture is similar to other industries in that 
knowledge alone is not sufiicient for success. Like those 
engaged in other kinds of business, farmers must have capital, 
in addition to knowledge and skill, and it is highly important 
that they obtain the capital they need on terms consistent 
with their credit. 

What is being done to promote better farming, through 
education and the establishment of land-and-agricultural 
credit institutions, is due to the great importance of the in- 
dustry, and not to any lack of intelligence on the part of the 


farmers themselves. There is no more reason to assume that 
farmers are incapable of, or indifferent to, progress than 
there is to assume that bankers are deficient because they 
operate under a faulty and inadequate banking system. The 
farmers of the United States are the intellectual superiors 
of the farmers in any other country in the world, and, with 
equal facihties, they will set the pace in scientific agriculture. 

A superficial knowledge of agricultural conditions in the 
United States is all that is necessary to understand that the 
particular pressing need of American farmers is financial 
machinery whereby the potential credit that they possess in 
abundance can be made negotiable. There is in this country 
a serious lack of financial institutions suited to supply farmers 
with funds. In this respect the United States is the most 
backward of any of the important nations of the world, and, 
consequently, it is safe to say that this is the prime reason 
why this country is so far behind many other countries in the 
per-acre production of food-stuffs. The average yield of 
grain in the United States is about fifty per cent less than it 
is on the continent of Europe, and the average per acre yield 
of potatoes is not more than thirty per cent of what it is in 
Germany. The most striking and important difference 
between farming conditions here and in many European 
countries, is that there farmers can readily obtain the funds 
they need, whereas in this country agricultural financing is 
difficult and costly. 

In its capital requirements, farming is not unlike other 
industries and it is like other industries in that unless these 
capital requirements are supplied, progress will be slow and 
dubious. Like the merchant and the manufacturer, the 
farmer needs funds: first, for the purchase of property and 
for its permanent improvement; and second, for temporary 
purposes, — such as financing crops. These two general 
divisions of agricultural capital requirements should be pre- 
served in the nature of loans that are made to secure funds. 


Each of these two divisions can and should support its own 
credit, known respectively as land credit and agricultural 
credit. For the purpose of buying land and making permanent 
improvements, farmers should be able to make mortgage 
loans which have a long time to run, and which they can 
gradually repay by small yearly installments. Money in- 
vested in land or permanent improvements becomes fixed 
capital, and the proportion of a farmer's income that can be 
attributed to this sort of capital is so limited that it is illogical 
and unreasonable to expect the money so invested to be repaid 
except after a considerable period of years. The maximum 
length of a farm loan in this country is from three to five years, 
and, at the end of that time, it may or may not be possible 
to secure a renewal. As a rule, a farm-mortgage loan here 
has a very restricted market, and, consequently, the borrower 
frequently is obliged to pay an unreasonable rate of interest, 
and to submit to burdensome conditions from which the 
nature of the security he has to offer entitles him to be exempt. 
Until some way is provided by which farm mortgages can 
be made the basis of a long-time security, with the marketable 
qualities of a railroad or industrial bond, and which can be 
sold at a price very nearly determined by the soundness of 
the security, the farmers of this country will continue to be 
burdened by the terms they must accept in making mortgage 
loans. That it is possible to create a security of this sort is 
shown by the success of the mortgage-loan companies and 
associations of foreign countries, whose obligations sell on a 
basis as favorable as that of bonds of the most successful 
railroad and industrial corporations. The farmers of the 
United States have as good a claim to cheap money as have 
railroad and industrial corporations, because farm land con- 
stitutes as good security as a railroad or factory. The mar- 
velous and rapid development of the railroads of the country, 
to a very large extent, is due to the low cost at which they 
have been able to obtain vast sums of money for purposes 


of development. There is absolutely no reason why just as 
cheap money should not be similarly available for the accel- 
eration of agricultural development. 

For the financing of temporary capital requirements, the 
personal credit of farmers should be made available. A 
farmer should not be obliged to mortgage his land to obtain 
funds to operate his property. As in the case of mortgage 
loans, the facilities in this country for making negotiable the 
personal credit of farmers are inadequate. There is no reason 
why the industrious capable farmer should not be able to 
borrow on his personal obligation as easily as does the mer- 
chant. A few American farmers do a banking business on 
a scale sufi5ciently large to make them desirable clients of 
local, state, and national banks, but, for the great majority, 
it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to secure the per- 
sonal credit accommodation they need, and to which their 
responsibility entitles them. 

The success of foreign rural cooperative banking associa- 
tions in reducing the rate of interest on loans to farmers, and 
the almost negligible amount that has been lost through the 
operations of these associations, clearly indicates that the 
high rate of interest that farmers in this country must pay, 
is due, not to any inherent weakness in their credit, but to 
the lack of properly organized facilities for making their 
credit negotiable. The lack of agricultural banking facilities 
is a tremendous hardship for the farmers. It means that 
they are laboring under a handicap which those engaged in 
no other kind of industry have to bear. Under present 
arrangements, farmers are paying two, two and a half, and 
three per cent more for money than they should. Upon the 
enormous amount of borrowed funds that the farmers of this 
country are obliged to employ, the excessive interest amounts 
to a sum so large that if it could be saved and expended in 
increasing the productivity of our farms, it would do much 
toward solving the problem of inadequate crops. 


Fortunately, in the attempt to establish banking facilities 
for the farmers of the United States, it is not necessary to 
work in the dark. Many of the farm credit institutions of 
other countries are established on principles so broad and 
sound that, with some modifications, they can be adapted 
to conditions in this country. It is important, therefore, to 
know all we can of foreign land and agricultural credit 

Germany is, perhaps, the country where agriculture is 
the most thoroughly and most intelligently organized. There 
are organizations in Germany for the purpose of supplying 
farmers with capital, and organizations for carrying on nearly 
all of the operations connected with the cultivation of the 
soil — all owned and managed by the farmers themselves. 
These organizations have revolutionized agricultural condi- 
tions in Germany. They not only have been the means of 
immensely increasing the productivity of the farms, but have 
also wonderfully improved the economic and social status 
of the farmers themselves. The first kind of agricultural 
cooperative organization started in Germany was for credit 
or banking purposes, and the entire fabric of agricultural 
cooperation in Germany now rests on its elaborate and effi- 
cient system of credit societies. Consequently it is reasonable 
to assume that these credit societies are responsible for. the 
advanced condition of agriculture. Agricultural credit in Ger- 
many is based on the principles of self-help and cooperation. 

In those European countries where land and agricultural- 
credit facilities are the most complete, as a rule, long-time 
mortgage loans and short-time personal loans are made by 
different institutions organized along different lines. Of 
the two kinds of credit institutions, perhaps the most success- 
ful and efficient are the Raiffeisen banks in Germany and the 
Credit Foncier in France. These two institutions differ in 
many essential particulars. A Raiffeisen bank is a mutual 
association, the Credit Foncier is an incorporated company; 


the Raiffeisen banks loan for the most part on personal obli- 
gations, the Credit Foncier on first mortgages; the Raiffeisen 
banks secure most of their funds through the deposits of the 
farmers themselves, the Credit Foncier, through the debenture 
bonds that it issues, obtains funds for its loans from the con- 
servative investors of all classes. It is because of these and 
other characteristic differences, and by reason of the wonder- 
ful success of these two institutions, that a knowledge of how 
the Raiffeisen banks and the Credit Foncier operate, and what 
they have accomplished, is peculiarly illuminating and prof- 
itable. Each of these two types of credit organizations pos- 
sesses many features well adapted for systems of farm-credit 
institutions in this country. 

The Raiffeisen banking system was founded by Frederick 
William Raiffeisen primarily for the purpose of freeing small 
farmers from the exactions of usurers. Raiffeisen knew noth- 
ing of finance, but he did understand the needs of those who, 
under the most discouraging circumstances, were bravely 
trying to gain a living from the soil — a class among whom 
credit was the particular and essential thing lacking. Sir 
Horace Plunkett, who has done so much for the agricultural 
development of Ireland, has said that the establishment of 
the Raiffeisen banks was second in economic importance only 
to the discovery of steam. 

The Raiffeisen banking system is based on the principle 
of combining borrowers, to the end that by association they 
may secure credit facilities which, as individuals, it would be 
impossible for them to obtain. The fundamental provisions 
of the Raiffeisen banks, as contemplated by Herr Raiffeisen, 
were those of gratuitous management, unlimited liability of 
members, and a strictly local field of operation. For the 
most part the Raiffeisen banks adhere to those provisions. 
The membership of the banks is made up almost exclusively 
of farmers. In 1909 the number of members for each bank 
averaged 92. In the beginning the Raiffeisen banks had no 


capital stock, but in 1876 a law was passed which made it 
necessary for them to issue shares of stock. The value of 
the shares was fixed at what was little more than a nominal 
amount. In 1909 the average paid-up capital per member 
was only 19 marks. The dividends that the Raiffeisen banks 
can pay are strictly limited — in no event can they exceed the 
rate of interest charged on loans. In 1909 these banks made 
a new profit in excess of 7,000,000 marks, but of this only 13 
per cent was paid out in dividends — the balance being 
passed to the credit of the reserve fund. Because of the nature 
of its business the sphere of operation of each bank is very 
limited. It is necessary for the members to know each other, 
and to know for what purpose each loan is made, and to see 
that the money is so used. The Raiffeisen banks have done 
much to encourage thrift, because they have supplied a new 
incentive for saving. Inasmuch as the successful manage- 
ment of these banks requires a keen sense of responsibility on 
the part of the individual members, their moral effect is very 
considerable. Through their membership in the Raiffeisen 
banks many German farmers have become familiar with the 
nature and uses of credit and have acquired a knowledge of 
business. Altogether, these small rural banks have much 
improved the financial position and the moral and intellec- 
tual caliber of their members. 

Because of its small size and restricted field of operation, 
the management of a Raiffeisen bank is very simple and in- 
expensive. In 1909 the average cost of management per bank 
was only 638 marks. The funds that the banks have to loan 
to their members are made up of the proceeds of the sale of 
capital stock, the reserve accumulated from profits, deposits 
— both savings and current account — and loans from the 
central cooperative banks, from other banks, and from in- 
dividuals. In 1909, 88 per cent of these funds consisted of 
the deposits of the farmers themselves. The size of the average 
deposit is about $370.00. 


The loans which these banks make are either on current 
account — a form of overdraft often used by European 
banks — or for fixed periods. There is a tendency to extend 
the practice of making loans on current account, as that seems 
to be the form best suited for members. As a rule the loans 
made by the Raiffeisen banks are for a short period — usually 
for one year, with a maximum of five. For the most part the 
loans are granted on the personal obligations of the borrowers, 
to which usually is added the guaranty of one or two associate 
members. Occasionally loans are secured by deposit of col- 
lateral, or by mortgages. The average loan indicates, the 
Raiffeisen banks primarily are institutions for supplying 
credit accommodations to the small landowner. 

The Raiffeisen banking system in Germany now comprises 
about 15,000 local banks, with a membership of approximately 
2,000,000. These banks are now doing a yearly aggregate 
business of about $1,500,000,000. The local Raiffeisen banks 
are grouped under 35 provincial banks, which, in turn, are 
afl51iated with two general central cooperative banks. The 
local banks borrow money from the provincial banks, when 
required, and also loan to them their surplus funds. The 
provincial central banks are cooperative societies, with lim- 
ited liability, and they occupy much the same position toward 
the local rural banks that the latter do toward their members. 
Their working capital is made up of the paid-up shares of 
their members (the local banks), of the deposits of the local 
banks, and of loans from other banks. By means of these 
provincial and central cooperative banks, agricultural credit 
in those parts of Germany where these banks operate possesses 
the element of fluidity in a remarkable degree — moving 
from those localities where it is not needed to those where 
it is needed. Altogether the Raiffeisen banks of Germany 
make up a wonderfully efficient organization, which, by supply- 
ing an enormous amount of agricultural credit, has revolu- 
tionized farming in Germany. 


Up to the middle of the last century, France was almost 
entirely lacking in land- and agricultural-credit facilities. 
As a result of much agitation there was passed in 1852 a 
law providing for land-mortgage banks, and under this the 
Credit Foncier was organized. Because of the success of the 
Landschaf ten in Germany, many of the principles and methods 
of these associations were incorporated in the French law. 
The Credit Foncier is unlike the Landschaften in the very 
important particular that it is an incorporated company, not 
a cooperative association. The Credit Foncier has a capital 
of 200,000,000 francs and operated under the supervision of 
the state. In the beginning (1852) the government granted 
the Credit Foncier a subsidy of 10,000,000 francs, in order to 
help it make loans at a rate advantageous for that time. The 
subsidy was not renewed, and the state does not now intervene, 
except occasionally, to exercise control. The Credit Foncier 
possesses many special privileges, pertaining to the issuance 
of bonds and to its loans, that give it a practical, if not a legal 
monopoly of the kinds of business in which it is engaged. 

The purposes of the Credit Foncier are: — 

1. Lending money to landowners, counties, communes, 
and public services. 

2. Creating and negotiating mortgage bonds, or, more 
properly, debentures, to a value which cannot exceed the 
amount of the sums due from its borrowers. 

3. As a necessary accessory to its principal business, the 
Credit Foncier has the right to carry on ordinary banking 
operations within well-defined limits, and, in that connection, 
it is permitted to receive deposits; but the aggregate of 
deposits must not exceed 100,000,000 francs. 

A large part of the funds received on deposit is employed 
in discounting commercial bills, on condition that they have 
two signatures and do not run over three months. The shares 
of the Credit Foncier which are dealt in on the Bourse, are 
issued at five hundred francs, and any one can own them. 


The stock now receives six per cent dividends, and sells for 
about 750 francs a share. The government appoints the 
governor and two sub-governors, who, by virtue of their office, 
are members of the Council of Administration. There must 
also be three treasurers-general — state officials — among the 
23 members of the Council of Administration. These treas- 
urers are appointed by the general assembly of the company, 
but before presenting their names to the assembly it is cus- 
tomary to obtain the approval of the Minister of Finance. 
The general assembly represents all the stockholders, and is 
composed of the. two hundred who own the largest amount 
of stock. These stockholders meet once each year to ratify 
the accounts, vote the dividends, and dispose of such other 
business as may properly be presented to them. The general 
assembly elects a Council of Administration of 23 members. 
The governor has a right to veto the acts of both the general 
assembly and the Council, but there are only a very few 
instances on record of his having used this power. The 
Council of Administration meets once each week, and, among 
other things, passes upon all loans. 

The two principal kinds of loans made by the Credit Foncier 
are mortgage loans and communal loans, and its total out- 
standing loans now amount to about 4,000,000,000 francs. 
So far as this country is concerned that part of its operations 
covering the making of mortgage loans to landowners is of 
the greatest interest. Our municipalities now have a broad 
and steady market for their securities. 

The Credit Foncier makes loans to landowners on the fol- 
lowing terms: — 

1. Short- time loans, without amortization, for a period of 
from one to nine years. 

2. Long-time loans, with annual amortization for a period 
of from ten to seventy-five years. 

The rate of interest on these loans is 4.30 per cent at the 
present time, and the rate is the same for all kinds of property. 


The rate charged on a loan must not exceed the rate at which 
money is obtained from the sale of bonds by more than six- 
tenths of one per cent. Loans are made only on first-mortgage 
security, and the amount of the loan cannot exceed one-half 
of the value of the property, except that loans on wine and 
timber lands must not exceed one-third of their value. When 
the loan is made for a short period, the borrower pays each 
year only the amount of interest due, and the principal sum 
must be paid in full at the end of the term of the loan — from 
one to nine years. Long-time loans are amortized; that is 
they are gradually paid by means of an annuity, which includes 
the interest and a small fraction of the principal. As a rule, 
the borrower himself fixes the length of time that the loan is 
to run. The amortization extends over the whole period of 
the loan, so that the total of the interest and capital amount 
is repaid from a constant yearly annuity. Consequently, 
the cost of amortization depends on the length of the loan, 
and on the rate of interest. On a loan running for seventy- 
five years at 4.30 per cent interest, the annuity — including 
interest and amortization — is at the rate of 4.48 per cent 
per annum. The borrower has the right to pay the principal 
of the loan at any time, and to profit by the amortization 
already made. He can also make partial payments and 
thereby reduce the amount of the annuity. 

The bonds issued by the Credit Foncier have no fixed 
maturity, but are called for payment by lot. Each payment 
of bonds must be of such an amount that the bonds remaining 
in circulation do not exceed the balance of the principal owed 
upon the hypothecated loans. If the government approves, 
there can be added to the bonds called for payment certain 
prizes and premiums. The funds received from the usual 
amortization, or anticipated payments, must be used to amor- 
tize or redeem bonds, or to make new loans. In general the 
bonds bear 3 per cent on the nominal capital, and the total 
cost of recent loans to the company, including interest, prizes, 


and premiums, is about 3.60 per cent. The bonds are sold 
by public subscription, and may be paid for in installments. 
About every three years the company issues bonds sufficient 
to yield from 300,000,000 to 350,000,000 francs. The bonds 
are subscribed for by people of small means, and usually remain 
in their hands; consequently the quotations of the bonds 
show little fluctuation — less than French railway bonds. 
The company always keeps a few bonds on hand for sale, but 
the bulk of them are disposed of by public subscription. 

The Credit Foncier has departed from its original purpose 
to the extent that at the present time a very large part of its 
loans are made on urban real estate. However, this is simply 
an incident, and does not reflect on the applicabihty of the 
principles on which the Credit Foncier is founded, to an insti- 
tution confining its operations to loans on rural land. 

In view of the wonderful success of the Credit Foncier and 
kindred institutions, it is hard to understand why the prin- 
ciple of debenture bonds, secured by long-time real-estate 
loans, payable by amortization, should not, long ago, have 
been put in practice in this country. The business of loaning 
money on farm mortgages in the United States is still carried 
on in a primitive way. We are still making farm-mortgage 
loans for such short periods that frequent renewals — often 
very embarrassing to debtors — are inevitable. The existence 
of facilities whereby farm-mortgage loans could be made for 
long terms — say fifty years or more, with provision for easy 
payment by amortization — would be a wonderful boon to 
American farmers, and a decided stimulant to the develop- 
ment of efficient, scientific farming. 

Neither the Raiffeisen banks nor the Credit Foncier involve 
strange financial principles. In this country, the splendid 
record of the mutual savings banks proves that cooperation 
can be safely and wisely applied in banking. We are familiar 
with the principle of debenture bonds, and we know something 
of the principle of amortization. Of course it is impossible 



to pick up any of the foreign farm-credit systems, out of its 
social setting, and say, offhand, that it would be as successful 
in this country. The history and success, as well as the details 
of organization, of every one of the foreign farm-credit systems 
have been very largely determined by the temperament, the 
social and economic status of the people, and by the condi- 
tions of climate and soil of the country in which they are sit- 
uated. Consequently in working out the plans of agricultural- 
and land-credit systems for this country, we must be cautious 
in our adherence to foreign models. We must remember 
that the value and success of every institution depends upon 
its being in harmony with its environment. 

The importance of adequate credit facilities for our farmers 
is beginning to be keenly appreciated. The American Bankers' 
Association, the Southern Commercial Congress, and other 
organizations are doing splendid pioneer work by agitating 
the need of an agricultural banking system, and by dis- 
seminating information as to what has been accomplished 

The establishment of agricultural- and land-credit systems 
in this country is not a political question; it is an economic 
question of the gravest import — the proper solution of which 
demands a patriotic national purpose and constructive ability 
of a high order. 

L. H. Bailey 

Not long ago, I sat at the window of a hotel chamber, 
looking down a thoroughfare of a great city. I saw thousands 
of human beings pouring in and out, up and down, as if moved 
by some relentless machinery. Most of them were silent 
and serious and went quickly on. Some sauntered, and re- 
turned again and again as if looking for something that they 
did not expect to find. Carriages went up and down in endless 
pageant. Trolley-cars rushed by, clanging and grinding as 
they headlonged into the side streets. Meretricious auto- 
mobiles with gorgon-eyed drivers whirred into the crowds, 
scattering the street crossers. Men passed with banners and 
advertising placards. Women paraded with streaming head- 
gear and tempestuous gowns. A resplendent trumpeter 
rolled by in a tallyho. A hundred other devices to attract 
the eye and distract the ear came out and vanished; and yet 
no one stopped and no one seemed to care. Now and then 
I saw a knot of men form, as some one fell or as wagons col- 
lided; but the knots as quickly dissolved, and I saw that 
they were made up of the idle who were amused for the moment 
and then floated on hoping for fresh entertainment. A hurdy- 
gurdy attracted only a bevy of scurrying children. A little 
girl with an armful of newspapers moved in and out unnoticed. 

Suddenly a dog leaped down a flight of steps and was fol- 
lowed by two little children laughing and screaming. The 
dog felt his freedom and the children were in pursuit. The 

^ Copyright. Reprinted from The Outlook to Nature, by permission of 
the Macmillan Company. 


crowd stopped; the stern-faced men with high hats stopped; 
the well-dressed women stopped. Even a cabby pulled up 
his horse as the children dashed on the pavement after the 
escaping dog. Back and forth the children ran. On the far 
side of the street the people halted and took their hands out 
of their pockets. The children caught the dog and bundled 
it lovingly into the house; the crowd applauded, and dispersed. 

Every person seemed to be surprised that he had stopped. 
From my height I thought I could discern the reason for this 
curious phenomenon: in all the blare and blazonry of that 
tumultuous thoroughfare, this was the only episode of real 
spontaneous and unaffected human nature. All else was a 
kind of acting, and every person unconsciously recognized 
that it was so. I thought how rare must common naturalness 
be and how much has it been driven from our lives! 

If a person has given any serious thought to public questions, 
he has his own contribution to make as to the causes of present 
conditions and the means of bettering them; so I make mine: 
what is now much needed in the public temper is such a change 
of attitude as will make us to see and appreciate the common- 
place and the spontaneous, and to have the desire to maintain 
and express our youthful and native enthusiasms. And it 
is m.y special part to try, so far as possible, to open the eyes 
and the heart to nature and the common-day environment. 
My point of view is, of course, that of the countryman, and 
no doubt it has the countryman's bias. 

So great has been the extension of knowledge, and so many 
the physical appliances that multiply our capabilities, that 
we are verily burdened with riches. We are so eager to enter 
all the strange and ambitious avenues that open before us 
that we overlook the soil at our feet. We live in an age of 
superlatives, I had almost said of super-superlatives, so 
much so that even the superlatives now begin to pall. The 
reach for something new has become so much a part of our 
lives that we cease to recognize the fact and accept novelty 

126 L. H. BAILEY 

as a matter of course. If we shall fail to satisfy ourselves 
with the new, the strange, and the eccentric, perhaps we shall 
find ourselves returning to the old commonplace and the 
familiar, and perhaps we shall be able to extract new delights 
from them because of the flights we have taken. Perhaps 
in their turn the commonplaces will be again the superlatives, 
and we shall be content with the things that come naturally 
and in due order. Certain it is that every sensitive soul feels 
this longing for something simple and elemental in the midst 
of the voluminous and intricate, something free and natural 
that shall lie close to the heart and really satisfy our best 

It is not likely that we shall greatly simplify our outward 
physical and business affairs. Probably it is not desirable 
that we should do so, for we must maintain our executive 
efl&ciency. We have seen a marvelous development of affairs, 
expressed in the renovation of a hundred old occupations and 
the creation of a thousand new ones. Most of these occu- 
pations and businesses are clear gain to the world, and we may 
expect them to endure. This rise of affairs has emphasized 
the contrasts of business and of home. Machinery and com- 
plexity belong to affairs; but a simpler and directer mental 
attitude should belong to our personal and private hours. 
Perhaps our greatest specific need is a wholesome return to 
nature in our moments of leisure, — all the more important 
now that the moments of leisure are so few. This return to 
nature is by no means a cure-all for the ills of civilization, 
but it is one of the means of restoring the proper balance and 
proportion in our lives. It stands for the antithesis of acting 
and imitation, for a certain pause and repose, for a kind of 
spiritual temper, for the development of the inner life as con- 
trasted with the externals. 
- The outlook to nature is, of course, the outlook to optimism, 
for nature is our governing condition and is beyond the power 
of man to modify or to correct. We look upward and outward 


to nature. Some persons have supposed, however, that the 
"contentment" preached by the nature-lover imphes unvexed 
indifference to the human affairs of the time, and that there- 
fore it makes for a kind of serene and weak utopianism; but, 
to my mind, the outlook to nature makes for just the reverse 
of all this. If nature is the norm, then the necessity for 
correcting and amending the abuses that accompany civiliza- 
tion becomes baldly apparent by very contrast. The repose 
of the nature-lover and the assiduous exertion of the man of 
affairs are complementary, not antithetical, states of mind. 
The return to nature affords the very means of acquiring the 
incentive and energy for ambitious and constructive work of 
a high order; it enforces the great truth that, in the affairs 
of men, continued progress is conditioned upon a generous 
discontent and diligent unrest. 

By nature, I mean the natural out-of-doors, — the snow 
and the rain, the sky, the plants, the animals, the running 
brooks, and every landscape that is easy of access and unde- 
filed. Every person desires these things in greater or lesser 
degree: this is indicated by the rapidly spreading suburban 
movement, by the astonishing multiplication of books about 
nature. Yet there are comparatively very few who have any 
intimate contact with nature, or any concrete enjoyment from 
it, because they lack information that enables them to under- 
stand the objects and phenomena. 

The currents of civilization tend always to take us out of our 
environment rather than to fit us into it. We must recast 
our habits of thought so as to set our faces nature-ward. This 
is far more important than any effort at mere simplicity or 
toward lopping off the redundancies: it is fundamental direc- 
tion and point of view. 

The outlook to nature is the outlook to what is real, and 
hearty, and spontaneous. Our eager civilization prematurely 
makes us mentally old. It may be true that the span of 
man's life is increasing, but at twenty we have the knowledge 

128 L. H. BAILEY 

and the perplexities that our grandfathers had only at forty. 
Our children may now be older when they are graduated from 
school, but the high school course of to-day is more complex 
than was the college course of fifty years ago. All this has 
a tendency to lessen the years of free and joyous youth. You 
have only to see the faces of boys and girls on your city streets, 
to discover how old the young have grown to be. In home 
and school our methods have been largely those of repression: 
this is why the natural buoyant outburst that I saw on the 
city thoroughfare challenged such instant attention and 
surprise. We need to emphasize the youthful life. 

Therefore, I preach the things that we ourselves did not 
make; for we are all idolaters, — the things of our hands we 
worship. I preach the near-at-hand, however plain and ordi- 
nary, — the sky in rain and sun; the bird on its nest and the 
nest on its bough; the rough bark of trees ; the frost on bare 
thin twigs; the mouse skittering to its burrow; the insect 
seeking its crevice; the smell of the ground; the sweet wind; 
the leaf that clings to its twig or that falls when its work is 
done. Wisdom flows from these as it can never flow from 
libraries and laboratories. 

"There be four things," say the Proverbs, "which are little upon the 
earth, but they are exceeding wise: 

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the 

"The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the 

"The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; 

"The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces." 

Some of us do not enjoy nature because there is not enough 
sheer excitement in it. It has not enough dash and go for this 
uneasy age; and this is the very reason why we need the solace 
and resource of nature so much. On looking over the lists 
of Christmas books I was surprised to find how often the 
word "sensation" occurs. In the announcement of the 


forthcoming number of a magazine, I find twenty articles, 
of which at least nineteen are to be "tragic," "thrilling," 
"mystery-laden," or otherwise unusual. The twentieth 
one I hope to read. One would think that a piece of writing is 
valuable in porportion as it is racy, exciting, startling, striking, 
sensational. In these days of sensational sales, to have a 
book sell phenomenally well is almost a condemnation of it. 
An article or book that merely tells a plain story directly and 
well is too tame; so even when we write of nature we must 
pick out the unusual, then magnify and galvanize it. From 
this literature the reader goes out to nature and finds it slow 
and uninteresting; he must have a faster pace and a giddier 
whirl of events. He has little power to entertain himself; 
and, his eyes never having been trained to see what he looks 
at, he discovers nothing and the world is vacuous and void. 
He may find temporary relief in some entertainment provided 
for him out of hand, as the so-called news of the newspapers 
or some witless frippery on the stage. Yet, unless all poets 
and philosophers have misled us, the keenest and most' re- 
sourceful dehghts that men have found have been the still 
small voices of the open fields. 

There is another objection to much of the nature writing, 
— the fact that it is unrepresentative of nature. It exploits 
the unusual and exceptional, and therefore does not give the 
reader a truthful picture of common and average conditions. 
This has been true to some extent even of text-books, — they 
choose so-called "typical" forms and structures, forgetting 
that typical examples exist only in books for purposes of 
definition. The best nature writing, as I conceive of it, is 
that which portrays the commonplace so truthfully and so 
clearly that the reader forthwith goes out to see for himself. 
Some day we shall care less for the marvelous beasts of some 
far-off country than for the mice and squirrels and wood- 
chucks of our own fields. If I were a naturalist, I should go 
forthwith to studv the mice and then write of them for all 


children; for, of all untamed animals, what ones are known to 
a greater number of children? — and yet what do the children 
know except that they have been early taught by their elders 
to abhor these animals? 

The embodiment of all grace and agility, of all quick dis- 
patch, of all neat habits and of comeliness, of unseen and 
devious ways, is the mouse. What other object was ever so 
swift and silent and graceful as it slides along the corners of 
your room as noiseless as a shadow! What explorer was ever 
so successful as it peers into drawers and sniffs in cupboards! 
A few years ago a mouse was my nightly companion for 
perhaps a month. He was employed in some great engineering 
enterprise in the timber work over my chamber. Hour by 
hour he alternately gnawed rapidly, stopped, gnawed and 
stopped again, in regular intermittence. I suppose that in 
the moments of silence he was listening for eavesdroppers; 
or perhaps he was resting. He began far at one side of my 
ceiling and worked steadily toward the center. I wondered 
what curious plans he had in his head and whether he had 
calculated on the cost of all his labor. At length the region 
of his excavations lay immediately over my head, and my 
interest in him, although he was unseen, became quite unusual. 
At last he seemed to have made an extra effort, another silence 
came, — a silence that was never broken. For nights I 
waited; and to this day I wonder. In my boyhood the field 
mice were a constant source of entertainment and mystery. 
I found them scuddled in the corn shocks, burrowed in the 
dry grass, nesting in the corn-crib. I saw their faint narrow 
trails on new-fallen snow, leading into strange pigmy caverns. 
One winter I helped to fell a tree, in the hollow hole of which 
we found a full peck of beechnuts neatly shelled and stored 
against the cold. Let us have the commonplace, for indeed 
it is rare! 

Just now I said something of the "news." It is important 
that we recur to this subject, since we are a people of news 


readers, and continuous reading strongly, though silently, 
influences our outlook toward nature and affairs. Much 
of what is called news is so unimportant that it is not worth 
the while of a person whose time is of value; but my chief 
objection to it, as to some of the nature writing, is that it is 
no way representative of human affairs, — if it were, I suppose 
it would not be new and therefore would not be news. It is 
made up to a large extent of exceptional and meaningless 
episodes and extravagancies. Yesterday I saw hundreds 
of persons on cars and ferries eagerly reading the "news." 
I bought a paper resplendent with photography and colored 
ink. The first page had eight articles, seven of which were 
devoted to cases of divorce, common rascality and crime, 
and unimportant local accidents, all displayed as if it would 
advantage a man to read them. Only one article dealt with 
public affairs, and this was hidden underneath small headlines. 
The newspaper had no sense of proportion. All the details 
of a divorce case were given with as much circumstantial 
minutiae as if it were of equal importance with a debate in 
Congress or the deliberations of the international peace con- 
ference. As I was about to write these sentences, I chanced 
to pick up the following editorial paragraph from a country 
newspaper (the Seneca Falls, N.Y., Reveille): 

The sound and wholesome quahties which make for all that is most 
prized in Ufe are to be found in the great masses of the people, and are 
scarcely touched by the currents of the time which make for evil, and with 
which the news of the day is necessarily so largely concerned. It is not 
the doings or the ways of the great bulk of the people — those who quietly 
earn a modest living by ordinary industry — that furnish much material 
either for news or for comment. We take all that for granted, and when 
we think of the tendencies of the time, we almost forget its existence. When 
a touch of nature happens to bring into unaccustomed relief the existence 
of the homely but sturdy and sterling virtues of the great American people, 
their right-mindedness and true-heartedness, it is well to draw from the 
event the lesson that manhood and merit are after all the things which 
create the very best character for our country and government. 

132 L. H. BAILEY 

We gather from this extract the opinion that what we call 
the "slow" and "dull" may, after all, be the saving strength 
of the nation. In the hamlets and villages and small country 
cities, great problems are working themselves out just as 
effectively as in the mighty cities; and although slowly, or 
even because slowly, they may be working out more funda- 
mentally than elsewhere. The great mass of mankind is 
unrecorded and practically unknown. A few of us are actors, 
and we pass with some noise and flourish across the stage; 
but the sources of events are behind and beyond. I have 
heard the saying attributed to a statesman that if the discus- 
sions either at the country four-corners or in the president's 
cabinet were to cease, it were better to do away with the cab- 
inet. Public opinion does not seem to originate to any extent 
with the leaders: the leaders are more likely to catch and 
voice the crystallizing sentiments of the commonplace, orig- 
inating slowly and perhaps unconsciously with those who work 
first-handed with the forces that make for wealth. 

We might go even farther than the hamlet or the town, — 
to the family unit on the remotest farm. This unit is con- 
sidered by most of the other members of the race to be the 
commonplace of the commonplace; yet, along with the farm- 
ing, human problems are being worked out. There boys 
and girls are being reared and even trained, who some day 
may come to your cities and distance your own sons and 
daughters; for it is a discouraging fact that, with all we are 
doing for schooling, merit and efficiency do not seem to in- 
crease in proportion, and those whom we are in the habit of 
calling uneducated may take the highest prizes that the world 
has to give. The farm, in its turn, is being exploited in our 
current literature; and, significantly enough, much of this 
literature is of the sensational order. Of all things that 
should not be sensationalized, the farm is the chief. The 
farm need not be prosaic nor devoid of intellectual interest; 
but its very spirit is that of stabiHty and constancy. We 


should develop the ideals in every occupation; but the ideal 
should follow closely the facts and the spirit of the real. 
We need to idealize the commonplace, for then we show its 

We need a new literature of nature and the open country, 
a literature that shall not be merely and plainly descriptive. 
We need short, sharp, quick, direct word-pictures that shall 
place the object before us as vividly as the painter would 
outline some strong figure with a few bold strokes of his 
brush. Every object and every common labor awaken some 
response beyond themselves, and this response can be set to 
words. The man employed at useful and spontaneous work 
is a poetic figure, full of prophecy and of hope. The cow in 
the field, the tree against the sky, the fields newly plowed, 
the crows flapping home at night, the man at his work, the 
woman at her work, the child at its play — these all are 
worth the stroke of the artist. 

I saw a man walking across the fields, with spade on his 
shoulder and dog at his side; I saw his firm long stride; I 
saw his left arm swing; I saw the weeds fall beneath his feet; 
I saw the broad straight path that he left in the grass. There 
were brown fields, and woods in the first tint of autumn. 
I saw birds; and in the distance was the rim of the sky. And 
beyond him, I saw the open ditch to which he was returning. 

With the nature writers I like to include some of the authors 
who do not write specific natural history topics. If they write 
from the out-of-doors, with a keen love of it and a knowledge 
of what it comprises, adding to it touches of good human 
nature, then they lead men to the open as effectively as those 
to whom we customarily apply the term "nature- writer." 
The landscape is as important as any object that it contains, 
and the human sentiment is more important than either. 
These writers invariably write the commonplace, and touch 
it into life and meaning. One of the greatest of these writers, 
to my thinking, is Stevenson, — simple, direct, youthful. 



tender and heartsome. His life was with nature; his work 
touches the cosmic and elemental. 

O Stevenson ! On far Samoa's tropic shore 

You moored your slender bark, 

And there in calm secludedness did hve 

To write the spirit of your gentle soul, 

And over all the world to poiir 

The fragrance from the tropic of your heart. 

And thence you passed beyond, — 

Passed not with the proud acclaim 

Of pageant and tempestuous bells 

That drown themselves in black forgetfulness, — 

But fell away as falls the wind at eventide; 

And all the trees on all the isles and shores 

Bowed their heads in solitude. 

I like to think that our nature poetry is also leading us 
natureward in a very practical way, since it is becoming more 
personal and definite, and brings us into closer touch with 
specific objects and demands greater knowledge of them. 
It has been the progress of our attitude toward nature to 
add the concrete to the abstract; and this may be expected 
to proceed so far that every object of the environment and 
every detail of our lives will be touched with inspiration. 
If I cannot catch a note of inspiration from the plainest thing 
that I touch, then to that extent my life is empty and devoid 
of hope and outlook. The great voices appealed to the early 
Greeks, — the thunder, the roaring wind, the roll of the 
waves, the noise of war; but we do not know that the shape 
of the leaf, and the call of the young bird, and the soft gray 
rain, appealed much to them. The Greek lyrics are mostly 
personal or personifying, and lack any intimate touch with 
the phases of natural phenomena. As men have come more 
and more to know the near-at-hand and the real in nature, 
this knowledge has been interpreted in the poetry; for poetry 
always reflects the spirit of the time. All English poetry 
illustrates this general tendency; but what we are in the 


habit of calling "nature poetry" is of comparatively recent 
growth. It is to be hoped that we shall never have less 
nature poetry that expresses the larger moods; but we must 
have more that is specific and concrete in natural history 
details, and which will still be poetry, for the race is coming 
nearer to the environment in which it lives. The individual 
seems sometimes to recapitulate the experience of the race; 
as each of us grows old and conventionalities lose their mean- 
ing and the small voices make a stronger appeal, we are 
conscious that we have had Wordsworth's experience: 

In youth from rock to rock I went, 
From hill to hiU in discontent, 
Of pleasure high and tvu-bulent, 

Most pleased when most uneasy; 
But now my own delights I make, — 
My thirst from every riU can slake, 
And gladly Nature's love partake 

Of thee, sweet Daisy! 

It is often said that as this is a practical age, with industrial- 
ism developing everywhere, therefore poetry must die away. 
Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is true that 
industrialism is developing at great pace; this, in fact, is the 
glory of our time, for civilization has entered on a new epoch. 
Men's minds are concerned with things that never concerned 
them before; yet, the resources of the old earth have merely 
been touched here and there, and the wealth of mankind will 
increase. But all this does not mean that sentiment is to be 
crushed or that the horizon of imagination is to be contracted, 
but rather the reverse. The flights of science and of truth 
are, after all, greater than the flights of fancy. If sentiment 
is necessarily eliminated from business transactions, it is all 
the more important that it be added to the recreation and the 
leisure. The great constructive agencies of the time are 
essentially poetic; and the world never needed poetry so much 
as now. This thought is forcibly expressed in Charles Eliot 

136 L. H. BAILEY 

Norton's advice, that has now been so effectively used by 
the press: 

Whatever your occupation may be. and however crowded your hours 
with affairs, do not fail to secure at least a few minutes every day for 
refreshment of your inner life with a bit of poetry. 

But this poetry of nature must be of the new kind. Per- 
haps the day of the formal "sustained" poem has passed, — 
with its ambitious disquisitions, long periods, heavy rhetoric, 
labored metaphors. It is a question, also, whether even the 
sonnet, although highly artistic, is free and plastic enough to 
express the nature-feeling of our time; for this feeling seems 
to be more and more impatient of historical limits and forms. 
The new nature poetry must be crystal clear, for we have no 
time for riddles, even though they are set in metre and rhyme. 
It must be definite, and it must apply. The best nature 
poetry will be hopeful, joyous, and modern. At least some 
of it must deal with objects, phenomena, and emotions that 
are common to common men: then it will become a part of 
men's lives, not merely an accomplishment to be used with 
proper manners and on occasion. Perhaps this more vital 
song will relieve poetry writing of much that is too theoretical 
and fine-spun; and I hope that it may also divert the current 
from the weak and petty lovelorn type of verse-making 
which exploits personal love affairs that ought to be too 
private and sacred for publication and which in the end 
contributes nothing to the poetry of emotion. 

This poetry, whether its flight is small or great, must be 
born of experience, and must be intrinsic; it must be the 
expression of a full heart, not the sentiment of a looker-on. 
It must not be assumed or forced. No man whose heart is 
not full of the beauty and meaning of a leaf should write 
even a distich on the leaf. So, too, the nature poem of wide 
reach must be the poem of the man who is free. Such poetry 
must spring from the open air; perhaps it must be set to words 
there, — at least outside the city. The city will have its 


great poems, but they will rise out of the city as Venus rose 
out of the sea. It seems to me that we have really very 
little genuine nature poetry. Our poets, in spirit or in fact, 
now write largely from the city and the study outward, and 
their work is bookish. The product is the cultured poetry 
of the library and the study, and is under the influence of 
the schools. It continues to be burdened with outworn and 
useless metaphor, and it follows traditional forms of verse 
and line, as if verse and line were more than essence. Walt 
Whitman — poet of the commonplace — has most com- 
pletely freed himself from the bondage of literary form; and 
he is only an earnest of what shall come. It is doubtful 
whether the great nature poet will be taught in the formal 
curricula of the schools. His spirit and his method will be 
as unconfined as the inaccessible mountains, the great plains, 
or the open sea. His poetry must be much more than pleas- 
ing and local: it must be rugged and continental. 

It must be true that the appreciation of poetry is increasing; 
and poetry is prophecy. If it is not increasing, then our 
education is worse than most of us think; but if appreciation 
of poetry is increasing, then we are acquiring a stronger hold 
on aspirations that are simple and elemental and universal. 
I am constantly surprised at the poems that busy and practi- 
cal men know; and also at the poetry that many busy men 
can write. There is reason to believe that there were never 
so many poets in the world as now. Poetry-making is not 
an occupation, but the incidental spark that strikes off from 
useful labor; it is the result of full and serious lives. The 
roll of machinery is rhythm and rhyme; the blowing of the 
wind is music. 

It has been my fortune to have had many years' experience 
in the teaching of farm boys. They are interesting boys, — 
strong, virile, courageous. They have not been stuffed and 
pampered, and have not had too much schooling. They 
have had the tremendous advantage of having been let alone, 

138 L. H. BAILEY 

and of having developed naturally. They hold their youth ; 
their minds are capable of receiving new impressions with 
faith and enthusiasm. It is my habit to call these agricul- 
tural students together twice each month, and, amongst other 
exercises, to read them poetry. Usually at first they are 
surprised; they had not thought of it before; or they thought 
poetry is for girls: but they come again. They may hide it, 
but these farm boys are as full of sentiment as an egg of meat. 
There was one fellow who had to support himself and help 
members of his family. He was a good student, but the 
lines of his life had been hard. Whenever he called at my 
office it was to ask advice about money affairs or to tell me 
of difficulties that he feared he could not overcome. Appar- 
ently there was no sentiment in his life, and no room for it. 
One evening I read to the students Matthew Arnold's "Buried 
Life." The next day, Jenkins came to my office, entered 
hesitatingly as if requesting something that he might not 
have, and asked whether I would loan him the poem till he 
could learn it, for he could not afford to buy. 

I believe, then, in the power of poetry, — in its power to 
put a man at work with a song on his lips, and to set the mind 
toward nature and naturalness. I hke the definite poem of 
a tree, or a stone, or a dog, or a garden, if only it tells the 
truth and stops when the truth is told. The old-time short 
nature poem was wont only to point a moral, — usually 
dubious and far-fetched and factitious — having httle vitality 
of its own. It really was not a nature poem, for the real 
nature poem is its own moral. The poems and stories of the 
Old Testament are always interesting to my students because 
they have something to say, they are direct, not surfeited 
with adjectives or burdened with rhetoric, and they are 
moral because they tell the truth and do not preach. We 
need to treasure the nature poem because it contains the 
elements of youth. So weary-old have we grown that we 
seem to be afraid to express our real selves; when now and 


then some person expresses himself in high places uncon- 
ventionally and with native feeling, we hail him as a "strong 
man." It is only when we are with ourselves under the free 
open heaven that we seem to be able to feel things keenly 
and newly and freshly. When in the open I am hopeful and 
resilient; when in my study I am conventional and dull. 
I wrote this lecture in my study. 

We need now and then to take ourselves away from men 
and the crowd and conventionalities, and go into the silence, 
for the silence is the greatest of teachers. Walt Whitman 
expresses this well: 

When I heard the learn'd astronomer, 
When the proofs, the figures, were 

ranged in columns before me, 
When I was shown the charts and 

diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them. 
When I sitting heard the astronomer where 

he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, 
How soon tmaccountable I became tired and sick. 
Till rising and ghding out I wander'd 

off by myself. 
In the mystical and moist night-air, and 

from time to time, 
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars. 

It will be gleaned from what has been said that we are to 
consider literature, including poetry, to be one of the means 
of the enjoyment of nature. It is fundamentally important, 
however, that we regard literature only as a means: it is not 
nature. Literature has its own place and value; beyond 
all this, is our point of view toward the natural world in 
which we live. One can never be fully appreciative of this 
natural world unless he has technical knowledge of some 
special part of it. One assuredly cannot be zoologist, geolo- 
gist, botanist, and meteorologist; but if he has intimate 
personal knowledge of one limited part, he has the key to 
the whole. As the real love of nature rests on knowledge, 


the person must have pursued some branch of natural history 
for a time with serious purpose, — the purpose to discover 
and to know the subject-matter for himself. This gives him 
point of view; tells him what to look for; enables him to 
look beneath the surface; trains his judgment as to causes 
and effects; guides him in distinguishing the essential; saves 
him from humiliating error. 

But before one takes up any serious bit of study for him- 
self, he must have the desire to take it up. In every person 
there is a latent desire to know something of the enclosing 
world. This desire is usually ironed out in the intellectual 
laundering processes. It is important that some one lead on 
this desire before it is overwhelmed by a multitude of less 
relevant affairs. In some persons this native desire is so 
strong that nothing extinguishes it: these persons become 
professional investigators and widen the boundaries of knowl- 
edge. Most of us, however, must give our main thought to 
other matters, and let the outlook to nature be chiefly a 
well-guided affection. Having this reasonable affection, the 
proper literature deepens it and adds a charm of its own. 

The best possible introduction to nature is that afforded 
by a sympathetic person who knows some aspect of nature 
well. You imbibe your friend's enthusiasm at the same time 
that you learn birds, or plants, or fishes, or the sculpturing 
of the fields. I say enthusiasm, for this is quite as important 
as knowledge, — perhaps it is more important than knowl- 
edge. But by enthusiasm I mean never mere exclamatory 
demonstration, but that quiet and persistent zeal that follows 
a subject to the end for the love of it, even though it take a 
month. This person need not be a professed "scientist," 
unless he is also a good teacher and knows what is most 
important in the subject and most relevant to you. The 
earlier the child has such a guide — if arrived at the age of 
reason — the more vital and lasting the effect: even one or 
two excursions afield may change the point of view and open 


the way for new experiences, although neither the guide nor 
the child may be aware of it at the time. The ideal guide 
was "Gramp," as James Buckham knew him {Country Life 
in A merica) : 

What a man to fish and camp, 

What a hand to hunt and tramp 

Up and down the woods, was Gramp! 

How he led me, high and low. 
Plunging through the brush and snow! 
Boy-like, how I loved to go ! 

Oh, the sweet days that we spent 
In the forest's pure content! 
Oh, the long, still miles we went! 

Keen-eyed Gramp! How well he knew 
Where the biggest berries grew, 
Where the witch-hke woodcock flew! 

Learned was he in all the lore 
Of the wood-wise men of yore — 
Subtle knowledge, taught no more. 

Ah, a happy boy was I, 

Loving God's free woods and sky. 

With dear Gramp to teach me why! 

That which is first worth knowing is that which is nearest 
at hand. The nearest at hand, in the natural environment, 
is the weather. Every day of our lives, on land or sea, whether 
we will or no, the air and the clouds and the sky surround us. 
So variable is this environment, from morning till evening 
and from evening till morning and from season to season, 
that we are always conscious of it. It is to the changes in 
this environment that we apply the folk-word "weather," — 
that is akin to wind. No man is efficient who is at cross- 
purposes with the main currents of his life; no man is content 
and happy who is out of sympathy with the environment in 
which he is born to live: so the habit of grumbling at the 

142 L. H. BAILEY 

weather is the most senseless and futile of all expenditures 
of human effort. Day by day we complain and fret at the 
weather, and when we are done with it we have — the weather. 
There is no other effort at which human beings are so per- 
sistent, and none at which they are so universally unsuccessful. 
The same amount of energy put into productive wholesome 
work would have set civilization far in advance of its present 
state. "What cannot be cured must be endured;" but there 
is really nothing in the weather to cure. It is not a human 
institution, and therefore it cannot be "bad." I have seen 
bad men, have read h)ad books, have made bad lectures, 
have lived two years about Boston, — I have never seen bad 

"Bad weather" is mainly the fear of spoiling our clothes. 
Fancy clothing is one of the greatest obstacles to a knowledge 
of nature: in this regard, the farm boy has an immense 
advantage. It is a misfortune not to have gone barefoot in 
one's youth. A man cannot be a naturalist in patent-leather 
shoes. The perfecting of the manufacture of elaborate and 
fragile fabrics correlates well with our growing habit of living 
indoors. Our clothing is made chiefly for fair weather; 
when it becomes worn we use it for stormy weather, although 
it may be in no respect stormy weather clothing. If our 
clothes are not made for the weather, then we have failed 
to adapt ourselves to our environment, and we are in worse 
state than the beasts of the field. Much of our clothing 
serves neither art nor utility. Nothing can be more pro- 
hibitive of an interest in nature than a millinery "hat," even 
though it be distinguished for its floriculture, landscape 
gardening, and natural history. 

The discomforts of the weather are largely the result of 
unsuitable garments. I am always interested, when abroad 
with persons, in noting the various mental attitudes toward 
wind; and it is apparent that most of the displeasure from 
the wind arises from fear of disarranging the coiffure or from 


the difficulty of controlling a garment. Let us sing the 

The \vind, the wind, 

The moaning wind! 
In monotone 
Alone, alone 
It weeps and groans, 
It croons and moans. 

And the chilly moon 

Rides aloft at noon 

In the moaning, moaning wind. 

The \vind, the wind, 

The thieving wind! 
It whisks and starts, 
It scuds and darts, 
It flings the sheaves, , 

It shakes the leaves. 

And the apples lie 

Where the weeds are high 

In the thieving, thieving wind. 

The wind, the wind. 

The summer wind! 
In idle ease 
Thro' weeds and trees 
It wafts and woos. 
It soothes and sues. 

And I fall asleep 

Where the grass is deep 

In the summer, summer wind. 

The wind, the wind, 

The winter wind ! 
It sweeps and soars, 
It howls and roars. 
It drives the snow, 
It piles the floe, 

And the drifting sky 

Runs sterile and dry 

In the winter, winter wind. 

144 L. H. BAILEY 

Our estimate of weather is perhaps the best criterion of 
our outlook on nature and the world. The first fault that 
I would correct in mankind is the habit of grumbling at the 
weather. We should put the child right toward the world 
in which he is to live. What would you think of the mariner 
who goes to sea only in fair weather? What have not the 
weather and the climate done for the steadiness and virility 
of the people of New England? And is this influence working 
as strongly to-day as in the times when we had learned less 
how to escape the weather? We must believe in all physical 
comfort, — it contributes to the amount of work that we can 
accomplish; but we have forgotten that it is possible to 
bear an open storm with equanimity and comfort. The 
person who has never been caught in rain and enjoyed it has 
missed a privilege and a blessing. I never want to live in 
one of those featureless climates that cannot get up spunk 
enough to raise a storm. Give us the rain and the hail and 
the snow, the mist, the crashing thunder, and the cold biting 
wind! Let us be men enough to face it, and poets enough to 
enjoy it. In "bad" weather is the time to go abroad in field 
and wood. You are fellow then with bird and stream and 
tree; and you are escaped from the crowd that is forever 
crying and clanging at your heels. 

Weather is the universal environing condition: it is but a 
step from this environment to the special objects therein. 
The customary objects are the ones that should first receive 
attention. Do not wander in remote places or in foreign 
lands merely to find nature: she is at your door. Touch 
the things near at hand: you will then understand the things 
far away. The first consideration of special study should be 
the inhabitants of your yard and garden : they are yours; 
or if they are not yours, you are not living a right life. Do 
you wish to study botany? There are weeds in your door- 
yard or trees on your lawn. You say that they are not in- 
teresting: that is because you do not know them. Every 


plant is as interesting as every other plant; if not, the fault 
is not with the plant. We have made the mistake all along 
of studying only special cases. We seem to have made up 
our minds that certain features are interesting and that all 
other features are not. It is no mere accident that many 
persons like plants and animals but dislike botany and zoology. 
It is more important to study plants than special subjects as 
exemplified in plants. Why does the weed grow just there? 
Answer that, and you have put yourself in pertinent relation 
with the world out-of-doors. 

Of course he who is to lead an effective and reposeful life 
must be in sympathy also with artificial environments, as 
factories and streets; but it is not my special purpose to 
teach of these. The natural environment is the more impor- 
tant, because it is the condition of our existence. The other 
environments are incidental, human, capable of great im- 
provement; yet we are brought into sympathetic touch with 
them if we have had the training of a wholesome outlook to 
nature. I like Timrod's sonnet to the factory smoke: 

I scarcely grieve, O Nature! at the lot 

That pent my life within a city's bounds, 

And shut me from thy sweetest sights and sounds. 

Perhaps I had not learned, if some lone cot 

Had nursed a dreamy childhood, what the mart 

Taught me amid its turmoil; so my youth 

Had missed full many a stem but wholesome truth. 

Here, too, O Nature! in this haunt of Art, 

Thy power is on me, and I own thy thrall. 

There is no unimpressive spot on earth! 

The beauty of the stars is over all. 

And Day and Darkness visit every hearth. 

Clouds do not scorn us; yonder factory's smoke 

Looked like a golden mist when morning broke. 

I would preach the surface of the earth, because we walk 
on it. When a youth, I was told that it was impossible for 
me to study geology to any purpose, because there were no 

146 L. H. BAILEY 

outcroppings of rocks in my region. So I grew up in ignorance 
of the fact that every little part of the earth's surface has a 
history, that there are reasons for sandbanks and for bogs 
as well as for stratified rocks. This is but another illustration 
of the old book-slavery, whereby we are confined to certain 
formal problems, whether or not these problems have any 
relation to our conditions. 

• The landscape is composed chiefly of three elements, — 
the surface of the earth, the sky, the vegetation. I well 
remember what a great surprise it was to learn that the 
sculpturing of the fields can be understood, and that the 
reasons for every bank and knoll and mud-hole can be worked 
out. There was a field back of the barn that contained 
hundreds of narrow knolls, averaging three to four feet high. 
At one side of every knoll was a narrow deep pocket that 
until midsummer was filled with water. The field was so 
rough that it could not be plowed, and so it was continuously 
used as a pasture. It was an Elysian field for a boy. Every 
pool was a world of life, with strange creatures and mysterious 
depths, and every knoll was a point of vantage. Near one 
edge of the field ran a rivulet, and beyond the rivulet were 
great woods. What was beyond the woods, I could only 
surmise. I recall how year by year I wondered at this field, 
until it became a sort of perpetual and unexplainable mystery, 
and somehow it came to be woven as a natural part of the 
fabric of my life. To this day I try once each year to visit 
this dear old field, even though it is long since leveled. All 
the sweep of my childhood comes back to me unbidden. 
The field is still a pasture, but generations of cows have 
passed on since then. Yet, as much as this field meant to 
me, I do not remember to have had any distinct feeling that 
there was any cause for the pools and knolls. My father cut 
the field from the forest, yet I do not remember that I ever 
asked him why this field was so; and I never heard any 
person express any curiosity about it. We all seemed to have 


accepted it, just as we accept the air. As I think of it now, 
this field must have been the path of a tornado that turned 
over the trees; and long before the settlers came, the prostrate 
trunks had decayed and a second forest had grown. Would 
that I could have known that simple explanation! One 
sentence would have given me the clew. How the mystery 
of the ancient tornado and the rise of another forest would 
have conjured a new world of marvel and discovery. 

When I had written this sketch of my pasture field, I called 
in a little school girl and read it to her. I wanted to hear her 
estimate of it, — for children are the best critics and also 
honest ones. 

"That's a nice story," she said; "but I don't want to 
study such things in school." 

"And why not?" I asked. 

"Because they are hard and dry," she said. 

Poor child! She was thinking of her books; and to think 
that I also had written books! 

I would preach the sky. When in the open country we 
are impressed most with the sense of room and with the sky. 
City persons have no sky, but only fragments of a leaky 
roof; for the city is one structure and needs only a roof to 
make it a single building. They have no free horizon line — 
no including circle laid on the earth, no welkin. There are 
no clouds, — only an undefined something that portends rain 
or hides the sun. One must have free vision if he is to know 
the sky. He must see the clouds sweep across the firmament, 
changing and dissolving as they go. He must look deep into 
the zenith, beyond the highest cirrus. We have almost lost 
the habit of looking up: 

Look unto the heavens, and see; 

And behold the skies, which are higher than thou. 

Or, if we note the sky, it is chiefly a mid-day or sunset recogni- 
tion. Our literature is rich in sunsets, but poorer in sunrises. 

148 L. H. BAILEY 

Civilization has led us away from the morning, and at the 
same time it has led us away from youthfulness. We have 
telescoped the day far into the night, and morning is becom- 
ing obsolete. We are owls. I know that this cannot be 
helped; but it can be mentioned. I have asked person after 
person whether he ever saw the sun rise. The large number 
have said no; and most of those who had seen the sun rise 
had seen it against their will and remembered it with a sense 
of weariness. Here, again, our farm boy has the advantage: 
he leads something like a natural life. I doubt whether a 
man can be a poet if he has not known the sunrise. 

The sky is the one part of the environment that is beyond 
our reach. We cannot change it; we cannot spoil it; we 
cannot paint signs on it. The sky is forever new and young; 
the seasons come out of it; the winds blow out of it; the 
weather is born from it: 

Hast thou entered the treasuries of the snow, 
Or hast thou seen the treasuries of the hail? 

I preach the mountains, and everything that is taller than a 
man. Yet it is to be feared that many persons see too many 
mountains and too many great landscapes, and that the "see- 
ing" of nature becomes a business as redundant and weari- 
some as other affairs. One who lives on the mountains does 
not know how high they are. Let us have one inspiration that 
lifts us clear of ourselves: this is better than to see so many 
mountains that we remember only their names. The best 
objects that you can see are those in your own realm; but 
your own realm becomes larger and means more for the sight 
of something beyond. 

It is worth while to cherish the few objects and phenomena 
that have impressed us greatly, and it is well to recount them 
often, until they become part of our being. One such phe- 
nomenon stands out boldly in my own experience. It was 
the sight of sunrise on Mt. Shasta, seen from the southeastern 


side from a p'oint that was wholly untouched by travelers. 
From this point only the -main dome of the mountain is seen. 
I had left the Southern Pacific train at Sisson's and had ridden 
on a fiat-car over a lumber railroad some eighteen miles to 
the southeast. From this destination, I drove far into the 
great forest, over old lava dust that floated through the 
woods like smoke as it was stirred up by our horses and wagon- 
wheels. I was a guest for the night in one of those luxurious 
lodges which true nature-lovers, wishing wholly to escape the 
affairs of cities, build in remote and inaccessible places. The 
lodge stood on a low promontory, around three sides of which 
a deep swift mountain stream ran in wild tumult. Giant 
shafts of trees, such shafts as one sees only in the stupendous 
forests of the far West, shot straight into the sky from the 
very cornices of the house. It is always a marvel to the 
easterner how shafts of such extraordinary height could have 
been nourished by the very thin and narrow crowns that 
they bear. One always wonders, also, at the great distance 
the sap-water must carry its freight of mineral from root to 
leaf and its heavier freight from leaf to root. 

We were up before the dawn. We made a pot of coffee, 
and the horses were ready, — fine mounts, accustomed to 
woods trails and hard slopes. It was hardly light enough to 
enable us to pick our way. We were as two pigmies, so 
titanic was the forest. The trails led us up and up, under 
spruce boughs becoming fragrant, over needle-strewn floors 
still heavy with darkness, disclosing glimpses now and then 
of gray light showing eastward between the boles. Suddenly 
the forest stopped, and we found ourselves on the crest of a 
great ridge : and sheer before us stood the great cone of 
Shasta, cold and gray and silent, floating on a sea of darkness 
from which even the highest tree crowns did not emerge. 
Scarcely had we spoken in the miles of our ascent, and now 
words would be sacrilege. Almost automatically we dis- 
mounted, letting the reins fall over the horses' necks, and 


removed our hats. The horses stood, and dropped their 
heads. Uncovered, we sat ourselves on the dry leaves and 
waited. It was the morning of creation. Out of the pure 
stuff of nebulae the cone had just been shaped and flung 
adrift until a world should be created on which it might rest. 
The gray light grew into the mountain. GraduaUy a ruddy 
light appeared in the east. Then a flash of red shot out of 
the horizon, struck on a point of the summit, and caught 
from crag to crag and snow to snow untfl the great mass was 
streaked and splashed with fire. Slowly the darkness settled 
away from its base; a tree emerged, a bird chirped, and the 
morning was born! 

Now a great nether world began to rise up out of Chaos. 
Far hills rose first through rolling biflows of mist. Then 
came wide forests of spruce. As the panorama rose, the 
mountain changed from red to gold. The stars had faded 
out and left the great mass to itself on the bosom of the rising 
world, — the mountain fully created now and established. 
Spriggy bushes and little leaves — little green-brown leaves 
and tender tufts of herbs — trembled out of the woods. The 
illimitable circle of the world stretched away and away, its 
edges stUi hung in the stuff from which it had just been fash- 
ioned. Then the forest rang with calls of birds and a hundred 
joyous noises, and the creation was complete. 

I have now reviewed some of the characteristics of the 
sympathetic attitude toward nature, and have tried to show 
how this outlook means greater efficiency, hopefulness, and 
repose. In the subsequent lectures I shall enlarge on its 
bearings on certain practical and very essential affairs. I 
have no mind to be iconoclast, to try to tear down what has 
been built, or to advise any man to change his occupation or 
profession. That would be impossible to accomplish, even 
were it desirable to advise. But even in the midst of aU our 
eagerness and involvedness, it is still possible to open the 
mind toward nature, and it wfll sweeten and strengthen our 


lives. Nature is our environment, and we cannot escape 
it if we would. The problem of our life is not yonder; it is 
here. The seeking of truth in fresh fields and for the love of 
it is akin to the enthusiasm of youth. Men keep young by 
knowing nature. They also should keep true. One of the 
New Sayings of Jesus is this: "Raise the stone, and there 
thou shalt find me; cleave the wood, and there am I." 


Paul Elmer More 

Near the secluded village of Shelburne that lies along the 
peaceful valley of the Androscoggin, I took upon myself to 
live two years as a hermit after a mild Epicurean fashion of 
my own. Three maiden aunts wagged their heads ominously; 
my nearest friend inquired cautiously whether there was any 
taint of insanity in the family; an old gray-haired lady, a 
veritable saint who had not been soured by her many deeds of 
charity, admonished me on the utter selfishness and godless- 
ness of such a proceeding. But I clung heroically to my 
resolution. Summer tourists in that pleasant valley may 
still see the little red house among the pines, — empty now, 
I believe; and I dare say gaudy coaches still draw up at the 
door, as they used to do, when the gaudier bonnets and hats 
exchanged wondering remarks on the cabalistic inscription 
over the lintel, or spoke condescendingly to the great dog lying 
on the steps. As for the hermit within, having found it 
impossible to educe any meaning from the tangled habits of 
mankind while he himself was whirled about in the imbroglio, 
he had determined to try the efficacy of undisturbed medita- 
tion at a distance. So deficient had been his education that 
he was actually better acquainted with the aspirations and 
emotions of the old dwellers on the Ganges than with those 
of the modern toilers by the Hudson or the Potomac. He 
had been deafened by the "indistinguishable roar" of the 
streets, and could make no sense of the noisy jargon of the 

^ Copyright. Reprinted from Shelburne Essays by permission of 
G. P. Putnam's Sons and of the author. 


market place. But — shall it be confessed? — although he 
discovered many things during his contemplative sojourn in 
the wilderness, and learned that the attempt to criticise and 
not to create literature was to be his labor in this world, 
nevertheless he returned to civilization as ignorant, alas, of 
its meaning as when he left it. 

However, it is not my intention to justify the saintly old 
lady's charge of egotism by telling the story of my exodus to 
the desert; that, perhaps, may come later and at a more 
suitable time. I wish now only to record the memories of 
one perfect day in June, when woods and mountains were as 
yet a new delight. 

The fresh odors of morning were still swaying in the air 
when I set out on this particular day; and my steps turned 
instinctively to the great pine forest, called the Cathedral 
Woods, that filled the valley and cHmbed the hill slopes behind 
my house. There, many long roads that are laid down in 
no map wind hither and thither among the trees, whose leaf- 
less trunks tower into the sky and then meet in evergreen 
arches overhead. There, 

The tumult of the times disconsolate 

never enters, and no noise of the world is heard save now and 
then, in winter, the ringing strokes of the woodchopper at 
his cruel task. How many times I have walked those quiet 
cathedral aisles, while my great dog paced faithfully on 
before! Underfoot the dry, purple-hued moss was stretched 
like a royal carpet; and at intervals a glimpse of the deep 
sky, caught through an aperture in the groined roof, reminded 
me of the other world, and carried my thoughts still farther 
from the desolating memories of this life. Nothing but pure 
odors were there, sweeter than cloistral incense; and murmur- 
ous voices of the pines, more harmonious than the chanting 
of trained choristers; and in the heart of the wanderer nothing 
but tranquillity and passionless peace. 


Often now the recollection of those scenes comes floating 
back upon his senses when, in the wakeful seasons of a summer 
night, he hears the wind at work among the trees; even in 
barren city streets some sound or spectacle can act upon him 
as a spell, banishing for a moment the hideous contention of 
commerce, and placing him beneath the restful shadows of 
the pines. May his understanding cease its function, and his 
heart forget to feel, when the memory of those days has 
utterly left him and he walks in the world without this con- 
solation of remembered peace. 

Nor can I recollect that my mind, in these walks, was much 
called away from contemplation by the petty curiosities of 
the herbalist or bird-lorist, for I am not one zealously addicted 
to scrutinizing into the minuter secrets of Nature. It never 
seemed to me that a flower was made sweeter by knowing 
the construction of its ovaries, or assumed a new importance 
when I learned its trivial or scientific name. The wood 
thrush and the veery sing as melodiously to the uninformed as 
to the subtly Curious. Indeed, I sometimes think a little 
ignorance is wholesome in our communion with Nature, until 
we are ready to part with her altogether. She is feminine in 
this as in other respects, and loves to shroud herself in illu- 
sions, as the Hindus taught in their books. For they called 
her Maya, the very person and power of deception, whose 
sway over the beholder must end as soon as her mystery is 

Dear as the sound of the wood thrush's note still is to my 
ears, something of charm and allurement has gone from it 
since I have become intimate with the name and habits of the 
bird. As a child born and reared in the city, that wild, ring- 
ing call was perfectly new and strange to me when, one early 
dawn, I first heard it during a visit to the Delaware Water 
Gap. To me, whose ears had grown familiar only with the 
rumble of paved streets, the sound was like a reiterated un- 
earthly summons inviting me from my narrow prison existence 


out into a wide and unexplored world of impulse and adventure. 
Long afterwards I learned the name of the songster whose 
note had made so strong an impression upon my childish 
senses, but still I associate the song with the grandiose scenery, 
with the sheer forests and streams and the rapid river of the 
Water Gap. I was indeed almost a man — though the 
confession may sound incredible in these days — before I 
again heard the wood thrush's note, and my second adventure 
impressed me almost as profoundly as the first. In the 
outer suburbs of the city where my home had always been, 
I was walking one day with a brother, when suddenly out of 
a grove of laurel oaks sounded, clear and triumphant, the 
note which I remembered so well, but which had come to have 
to my imagination the unreality and mystery of a dream of 
long ago. Instantly my heart leapt within me. "It is the 
fateful summons once more!" I cried; and, with my com- 
panion who was equally ignorant of bird-lore, I ran into the 
grove to discover the wild trumpeter. That was a strange 
chase in the fading twilight, while the unknown songster led 
us on from tree to tree, ever deeper into the woods. Many 
times we saw him on one of the lower boughs, but could not 
for a long while bring ourselves to believe that so wondrous 
a melody should proceed from so plain a minstrel. And at 
last, when we had satisfied ourselves of his identity, and the 
night had fallen, we came out into the road with a strange 
solemnity hanging over us. Our ears had been opened to 
the unceasing harmonies of creation, and our eyes had been 
made aware of the endless drama of natural life. We had 
been initiated into the lesser mysteries; and if the sacred 
pageantry was not then, and never was to be, perfectly clear 
to our understanding, the imagination was nevertheless awed 
and purified. 

If the knowledge and experience of years have made me a 
little more callous to these deeper influences, at least I have 
not deliberately closed the door to them by incautious prying. 


Perhaps a long course of wayward reading has taught me to 
look upon the world with eyes quite different from those of 
the modern exquisite searchers into Nature. I remember 
the story of Prometheus, and think his punishment is typical 
of the penalty that falls upon those who grasp at powers and 
knowledge not intended for mankind, — some nemesis of a 
more material loneliness and a more barren pride torturing 
them because they have turned from human knowledge to an 
alien and forbidden sphere. Like Prometheus, they shall in 
the end cry out in vain: 

O air divine, and O swift-winged winds! 

Ye river fountains, and thou myriad-twinkling 

Laughter of ocean waves ! O mother earth ! 

And thou, O all-discerning orb o' the sun! — 

To you, I cry to you; behold what I, 

A god, endure of evil from the gods. 

Nor is the tale of Prometheus alone in teaching this lesson 
of prudence, nor was Greece the only land of antiquity where 
reverence was deemed more salutary than curiosity. The 
myth of the veiled Isis passed in those days from people to 
people, and was everywhere received as a symbol of the veil 
of illusion about Nature, which no man might lift with 
impunity. And the same idea was, if anything, intensified 
in the Middle Ages. The common people, and the Church 
as well, looked with horror on such scholars as Pope Gerbert, 
who was thought, for his knowledge of Nature, to have sold 
himself to the devil; and on such discoverers as Roger Bacon, 
whose wicked searching into forbidden things cost him four- 
teen years in prison. And even in modern times did not the 
poet Blake say: "I fear Wordsworth loves nature, and nature 
is the work of the Devil. The Devil is in us as far as we are 
nature"? It has remained for an age of scepticism to sub- 
stitute investigation for awe. After all, can any course of 
study or open-air pedagogics bring us into real communion 
with the world about us? I fear much of the talk about 


companionship with Nature that pervades our summer Hfe 
is little better than cant and self-deception, and he best 
understands the veiled goddess who most frankly admits 
her impenetrable secrecy. The peace that comes to us from 
contemplating the vast panorama spread out before us is 
due rather to the sense of a great passionless power entirely 
out of our domain than to any real intimacy with the hidden 
deity. It was John Woolman, the famous New Jersey Quaker, 
who wrote, during a journey through the wilderness of Penn- 
sylvania: "In my traveling on the road, I often felt a cry 
rise from the center of my mind, thus, ' O Lord, I am a stranger 
on the earth, hide not thy face from me.'" 

But I forget that I am myself traveling on the road; and 
all this long disquisition is only a chapter of reminiscences, 
due to the multitudinous singing of the thrushes on this side 
and that, as we — I and my great dog — trod the high cathe- 
dral aisles. After a while the sound of running water came 
to us above the deeper diapason of the pines, and, turning 
aside, we clambered down to a brook which we had already 
learned to make the terminus of our walks. Along this 
stream we had discovered a dozen secret nooks where man 
and dog might lie or sit at ease, and to-day I stretched myself 
on a cool, hollow rock, with my eyes looking up the long, 
leafy chasm of the brook. Just above my couch the current 
was dammed by a row of mossy boulders, over which the waters 
poured with a continual murmur and plash. My head was 
only a little higher than the pool beyond the boulders, and, 
lying motionless, I watched the flies weaving a pattern over 
the surface of the quiet water, and now and then was re- 
warded by seeing a greedy trout leap into the sunlight to 
capture one of the winged weavers. Surely, if there is any 
such thing as real intimacy with Nature, it is in just such 
secluded spots as this; for the grander scenes require of us a 
moral enthusiasm which can come to the soul only at rare 
intervals and for brief moments. From these chosen moun- 


tain retreats, one might send to a scientist, busy with his 
books and his instruments and curious to pry into the secret 
powers of Nature, some such appeal as this : — 

Brother, awhile your impious engines leave; 

Nor always seek with flame-compelling wires 
Out of the palsied hand of Zeus to reave 

His dear celestial fires. 

What though he drowse upon a tottering bench, 

Forgetful how his random bolts are hurled! 
Are you to blame? or is it yours to quench 

The thunders of the world? 

Come learn with me through folly to be wise: 

Think you by cunning laws of optic lore 
To lend the enamelled fields or burning skies 

One splendour lacked before? 

A wizard footrule to the waves of sound 

You lay, — hath measure in the song of bird 

Or ever in the voice of waters found 
One melody erst unheard? 

Ah, for a season close your magic books, 

Your rods and crystals in the closet hide; 
I know in covert ways a hundred nooks. 

High on the mountain side, 

Where through the golden hours that follow noon. 

Under the greenwood shadows you and I 
May talk of happy Uves, until too soon 

Night's shadows fold the sky. 

And while Hke incense blown among the leaves 
Our fragrant smoke ascends from carven bowl, 

We'll con the lesser wisdom that deceives 
The Questioner in the soul, 

And laugh to hoodwink where we cannot rout: — 

Did Bruno of the stubborn heart outbrave. 
Or could the mind of Gahleo flout 

The folly of the Grave? 


So it seemed to me that the lesser wisdom of quiet content 
before the face of Nature's mysteries might be studied in the 
untrained garden of my hermitage. But I have been dream- 
ing and moralizing on the little life about me and the greater 
life of the world too long. So lying near the level of the still 
pool I began to read. The volume chosen was the most 
appropriate to the time and place that could be imagined, — 
Thoreau's Walden; and having entered upon an experiment 
not altogether unlike his, I now set myself to reading the 
record of his two years of solitude. I learned many things 
from that morning's perusal. Several times I had read the 
Odyssey within sight of the sea; and the murmur of the 
waves on the beach, beating through the rhythm of the poem, 
had taught me how vital a thing a book might be, and how 
it could acquire a peculiar validity from harmonious sur- 
roundings; but now the reading of Thoreau in that charmed 
and lonely spot emphasized this commonplace truth in a 
special manner. Walden studied in the closet, and Walden 
mused over under the trees, by running water, are two quite 
different books. And then, from Thoreau, the greatest by 
far of our writers on Nature, and the creator of a new senti- 
ment in literature, my mind turned to the long list of Ameri- 
cans who have left, or are still composing, a worthy record of 
their love and appreciation of the natural world. Our land 
of multiform activities has produced so little that is really 
creative in literature or art! Hawthorne and Poe, and 
possibly one or two others, were masters in their own field; 
yet even they chose not quite the highest realm for their 
genius to work in. But in one subject our writers have led 
the way and are still preeminent: Thoreau was the creator 
of a new manner of writing about Nature. In its deeper 
essence his work is inimitable, as it is the voice of a unique 
personality; but in its superficial aspects it has been taken 
up by a host of living writers, who have caught something 
of his method, even if they lack his genius and singleness of 


heart. From these it was an easy transition to compare 
Thoreau's attitude of mind with that of Wordsworth and the 
other great poets of his century who went to Nature for 
their inspiration, and made Nature-writing the characteristic 
note of modern verse. What is it in Thoreau that is not to 
be found in Byron and Shelley and Wordsworth, not to 
mention old Izaak Walton, Gilbert White of Selborne, and a 
host of others? It was a rare treat, as I lay in that leafy 
covert, to go over in memory the famous descriptive passages 
from these authors, and to contrast their spirit with that of 
the book in my hand. 

As I considered these matters, it seemed to me that 
Thoreau's work was distinguished from that of his American 
predecessors and imitators by just these qualities of awe and 
wonder which we, in our communings with Nature, so often 
cast away. Mer§ description, though it may at times have 
a scientific value, is after all a very cheap form of literature; 
and, as I have already intimated, too much curiosity of detail 
is likely to exert . a deadening influence on the philosophic 
and poetic contemplation of Nature. Such an influence is, 
as I believe, specially noticeable at the present time, and 
even Thoreau was not entirely free from its baneful effect. 
Much of his writing, perhaps the greater part, is the mere 
record of observation and classification, and has not the 
slightest claim on our remembrance, — unless, indeed, it 
possesses some scientific value, which I doubt. Certainly 
the parts of his work having permanent interest are just 
those chapters where he is less the minute observer, and 
more the contemplative philosopher. Despite the width 
and exactness of his information, he was far from having the 
truly scientific spirit; the acquisition of knowledge, with him, 
was in the end quite subordinate to his interest in the moral 
significance of Nature, and the words he read in her obscure 
scroll were a language of strange mysteries, oftentimes of 
awe. It is a constant reproach to the prying, self-satisfied 


habits of small minds to see the reverence of this great-hearted 
observer before the supreme goddess he so loved and 

jVIuch of this contemplative spirit of Thoreau is due to the 
soul of the man himself, to that personal force which no 
analysis of character can explain. But, besides this, it has 
always seemed to me that, more than in any other descriptive 
writer of the land, his mind is the natural outgrowth, and 
his essays the natural expression, of a feeling deep-rooted in 
the historical beginnings of New England; and this founda- 
tion in the past gives a strength and convincing force to his 
words that lesser writers utterly lack. Consider the new life 
of the Puritan colonists in the strange surroundings of their 
desert home. Consider the case of the adventurous Pilgrims 
sailing from the comfortable city of Leyden to the unknown 
wilderness over the sea. As Governor Bradford wrote, 
"the place they had thoughts on was some of those vast 
& unpeopled countries of America, which are frutfuU & fitt 
for habitation, being devoyd of all civill inhabitants, wher 
ther are only salvage and brutish men, which range up and 
downe, little otherwise than ye wild beasts of the same." 
In these vast and unpeopled countries, where beast and bird 
were strange to the eye, and where "salvage" men abounded, 
— men who did not always make the land so "fitt" for new 
inhabitants as Bradford might have desired, — it was inevi- 
table that the mind should be turned to explore and report 
on natural phenomena and on savage life. It is a fact that 
some of the descriptions of sea and land made by wanderers 
to Virginia and Massachusetts have a directness and graphic 
power, touched occasionally with an element of wildness, that 
render them even to-day agreeable reading. 

This was before the time of Rousseau, and before Gray 
had discovered the beauty of wild mountain scenery; inevi- 
tably the early American writers were chiefly interested in 
Nature as the home of future colonists, and their books are 


for the most part semi-scientific accounts of what they studied 
from a utilitarian point of view. But the dryness of detailed 
description in the New World was from the first modified 
and lighted up by the wondering awe of men set down in the 
midst of the strange and often threatening forces of an untried 
wilderness; and this sense of awful aloofness, which to a 
certain extent lay dormant in the earlier writers, did never- 
theless sink deep into the heart of New England, and when, 
in the lapse of time, the country entered into its intellectual 
renaissance, and the genius came who was destined to give 
full expression to the thoughts of his people before the face 
of Nature, it was inevitable that his works should be domi- 
nated by just this sense of poetic mystery. 

It is this New World inheritance, moreover, — joined, of 
course, with his own inexplicable personality, which must not 
be left out of account, — that makes Thoreau's attitude toward 
Nature something quite distinct from that of the great poets 
who just preceded him. There was in him none of the fiery 
spirit of the revolution which caused Byron to mingle hatred 
of men with enthusiasm for the Alpine solitudes. There 
was none of the passion for beauty and the voluptuous self- 
abandonment of Keats; these were not in the atmosphere he 
breathed at Concord. He was not touched with Shelley's 
unearthly mysticism, nor had he ever fed 

on the aerial kisses 
Of shapes that haunt thought's wildernesses; 

his moral sinews were too stark and strong for that form of 
mental dissipation. Least of all did he, after the manner of 
Wordsworth, hear in the voice of Nature any compassionate 
plea for the weakness and sorrow of the downtrodden. Phi- 
lanthropy and humanitarian sympathies were to him a desola- 
tion and a woe. "Philanthropy is almost the only virtue 
which is sufficiently appreciated by mankind. Nay, it is 
greatly overrated; and it is our selfishness which overrates 


it," he writes. And again: "The philanthropist too often 
surrounds mankind with the remembrance of his own cast-ofif 
griefs as an atmosphere, and calls it sympathy," Similarly 
his reliance on the human will was too sturdy to be much 
perturbed by the inequalities and sufferings of mankind, and 
his faith in the individual was too unshaken to be led into 
humanitarian interest in the masses. "Alas! this is the cry- 
ing sin of the age," he declares, "this want of faith in the 
prevalence of a man." 

But the deepest and most essential difference is the lack 
of pantheistic reverie in Thoreau. It is this brooding over 
the universal spirit embodied in the material world which 
almost always marks the return of sympathy with Nature, 
and which is particularly noticeable in the writers of the 
past century. So Lord Byron, wracked and broken by his 
social catastrophes, turns for relief to the fair scenes of Lake 
Leman, and finds in the high mountains and placid waters a 
consoling spirit akin to his own. 

Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part 
Of me and of my soul, as I of them? 

he asks; and in the bitterness of his human disappointment 
he would "be alone, and love Earth only for its earthly sake." 
Shelley, too, "mixed awful talk" with the "great parent," 
and heard in her voice an answer to all his vague dreams of 
the soul of universal love. No one, so far as I know, has yet 
studied the relation between Wordsworth's pantheism and 
his humanitarian sympathies, but we need only glance at his 
lines on Tintern Abbey to see how closely the two feelings 
were interknit in his mind. It was because he felt this 

sense subHme 
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whose dwelhng is the Hght of setting suns, 
And the round ocean, and the Hving air. 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; 


it was because the distinctions of the human will and the 
consequent perception of individual responsibility were 
largely absorbed in this dream of the universal spirit, that 
he heard in Nature "the still, sad music of humanity," and 
reproduced it so sympathetically in his own song. Of all 
this pantheism., whether attended with revolt from responsi- 
bility or languid reverie or humanitarian dreams, there is 
hardly a trace in Thoreau. The memory of man's struggle 
with the primeval woods and fields was not so lost in antiquity 
that the world had grown into an indistinguishable part of 
human life. If Nature smiled upon Thoreau at times, she 
was still an alien creature who succumbed only to his force 
and tenderness, as she had before given her bounty, though 
reluctantly, to the Pilgrim Fathers. A certain companion- 
ship he had with the plants and wild beasts of the field, a 
certain intimacy with the dumb earth; but he did not seek 
to merge his personality in their impersonal life, or look to 
them for a response to his own inner moods; he associated 
with them as the soul associates with the body. 

More characteristic is his sense of awe, even of dread, 
toward the great unsubdued forces of the world. The loneli- 
ness of the mountains such as they appeared to the early 
adventurers in a strange, unexplored country; the repellent 
loneliness of the barren heights frowning down inhospitably 
upon the pioneer who scratched the soil at their base; the 
loneliness and terror of the dark, untrodden forests, where 
the wanderer might stray away and be lost forever, where 
savage men were more feared than the wild animals, and 
where superstition saw the haunt of the Black Man and of 
all uncleanness, — all this tradition of sombre solitude made 
Nature to Thoreau something very different from the hills 
and valleys of Old England. "We have not seen pure Na- 
ture," he says, "unless we have seen her thus vast and drear 
and inhuman. . . . Man was not to be associated with it. 
It was matter, vast, terrific, — not his Mother Earth that 


we have heard of, not for him to tread on, or be buried in, — 
no, it were being too familiar even to let his bones lie there, 
— the home, this, of Necessity and Fate." After reading 
Byron's invocation to the Alps as the palaces of Nature; or 
the ethereal mountain scenes in Shelley's Alastor, where all 
the sternness of the everlasting hills is dissolved into rainbow 
hues of shifting light as dainty as the poet's own soul; or 
Wordsworth's familiar musings in the vale of Grasmere, — 
if, after these, we turn to Thoreau's account of the ascent of 
Mount Katahdin, we seem at once to be in the home of another 
tradition. I am tempted to quote a few sentences of that 
account to emphasize the point. On the mountain heights, 
he says of the beholder: 

He is more lone than you can imagine. There is less of substantial 
thought and fair understanding in him than in the plains where men in- 
habit. His reason is dispersed and shadowy, more thin and subtile, Uke 
the air. Vast, Titanic, inhuman Nature has got him at disadvantage, 
caugfit him alone, and pilfers him of some of his divine faculty. She does 
not smile on him as in the plains. She seems to say sternly. Why came ye 
here before your time? This ground is not prepared for you. Is it not 
enough that I smile in the valleys? I have never made this soil for thy 
feet, this air for thy breathing, these rocks for thy neighbors. I cannot 
pity nor fondle thee here, but forever relentlessly drive thee hence to where 
I am kind. 

I do not mean to present the work of Thoreau as equal in 
value to the achievement of the great poets with whom I 
have compared him, but wish merely in this way to bring out 
more definitely his characteristic traits. Yet if his creative 
genius is less than theirs, I cannot but think his attitude 
toward Nature is in many respects truer and more wholesome. 
Pantheism, whether on the banks of the Ganges or of the 
Thames, seems to bring with it a spreading taint of effeminacy ; 
and from this the mental attitude of our Concord naturalist 
was eminently free. There is something tonic and bracing 
in his intercourse with the rude forces of the forest; he went 
to Walden Pond because he had "private business to transact," 


not for relaxation and mystical reverie. "To be a philoso- 
pher," he said, "is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor 
even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live accord- 
ing to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magna- 
nimity, and trust; "and by recurring to the solitudes of Nature 
he thought he could best develop in himself just these manly 
virtues. Nature was to him a discipline of the will as much 
as a stimulant to the imagination. He would, if it were 
possible, "combine the hardiness of the savages with the 
intellectualness of the civilized man;" and in this method of 
working out the philosophical life we see again the influence 
of long and deep-rooted tradition. To the first settlers, the 
red man was as much an object of curiosity and demanded as 
much study as the earth they came to cultivate; their books 
are full of graphic pictures of savage life, and it should seem 
as if now in Thoreau this inherited interest had received at 
last its ripest expression. When he travelled in the wilder- 
ness of Maine, he was as much absorbed in learning the 
habits of his Indian guides as in exploring the woods. He 
had some innate sympathy or perception which taught him 
to find relics of old Indian life where others would pass them 
by, and there is a well-known story of his answer to one who 
asked him where such relics could be discovered: he merely 
stooped down and picked an arrowhead from the ground. 

And withal his stoic virtues never dulled his sense of awe, 
and his long years of observation never lessened his feeling 
of strangeness in the presence of solitary Nature. If at 
times his writing descends into the cataloguing style of the 
ordinary naturalist, yet the old tradition of wonder was too 
strong in him to be more than temporarily obscured. Un- 
fortunately, his occasional faults have become in some of his 
recent imitators the staple of their talent: but Thoreau was 
pre-eminently the poet and philosopher of his school, and I 
cannot do better than close these desultory notes with the 
quotation of a passage which seems to me to convey most 


vividly his sensitiveness to the solemn mystery of the deep 
forest : 

We heard [he writes in his Chesuncook~\, come faintly echoing, or creep- 
ing from afar, through the moss-clad aisles, a dull, dry, rushing sound, 
with a solid core to it, yet as if half smothered under the grasp of the luxu- 
riant and fungus-hke forest, like the shutting of a door in some distant 
entry of the damp and shaggy wUdemess. If we had not been there, no 
mortal had heard it. When we asked Joe [the Indian guide] in a whisper 
what it was, he answered, — "Tree fall." 


Thomas Henry Huxley 

This time two hundred years ago — in the beginning of 
January, 1666 — those of our forefathers who inhabited this 
great and ancient city took breath between the shocks of 
two fearful calamities: one not quite past, although its fury 
had abated; the other to come. 

Within a few yards of the very spot on which we are as- 
sembled, so the tradition runs, that painful and deadly malady, 
the plague, appeared in the latter months of 1664; and, 
though no new visitor, smote the people of England, and 
especially of her capital, with a violence unknown before, in 
the course of the following year. The hand of a master has 
pictured what happened in those dismal months; and in that 
truest of fictions, The History of the Plague Year, Defoe shows 
death, with every accompaniment of pain and terror, stalking 
through the narrow streets of old London, and changing their 
busy hum into a silence broken only by the wailing of the 
mourners of fifty thousand dead; by the woful denunciations 
and mad prayers of fanatics; and by the madder yells of 
despairing profligates. 

But, about this time in 1666, the death-rate had sunk to 
nearly its ordinary amount; a case of plague occurred only 
here and there, and the richer citizens who had flown from 
the pest had returned to their dwellings. The remnant of 
the people began to toil at the accustomed round of duty, or 
of pleasure; and the stream of city life bid fair to flow back 
along its old bed, with renewed and uninterrupted vigour. 


The newly kindled hope was deceitful. The great plague, 
indeed, returned no more; but what it had done for the 
Londoners, the great fire, which broke out in the autumn of 
1666, did for London; and, in September of that year, a heap 
of ashes and the indestructible energy of the people were all 
that remained of the glory of five-sixths of the city within the 

Our forefathers had their own ways of accounting for each 
of these calamities. They submitted to the plague in humility 
and in penitence, for they believed it to be the judgment of 
God. But, towards the fire they were furiously indignant, 
interpreting it as the effect of the malice of man, — as the 
work of the Republicans, or of the Papists, according as their 
prepossessions ran in favour of loyalty or of Puritanism. 

It would, I fancy, have fared but ill with one who, standing 
where I now stand, in what was then a thickly peopled and 
fashionable part of London, should have broached to our 
ancestors the doctrine which I now propound to you — that 
all their hypotheses were alike wrong; that the plague was 
no more, in their sense, Divine judgment, than the fire was 
the work of any political, or of any religious sect; but that 
they were themselves the authors of both plague and fire, 
and that they must look to themselves to prevent the recur- 
rence of calamities, to all appearance so peculiarly beyond the 
reach of human control — so evidently the result of the wrath 
of God, or of the craft and subtlety of an enemy. 

And one may picture to one's self how harmoniously the 
holy cursing of the Puritan of that day would have chimed in 
with the unholy cursing and the crackling wit of the Rochesters 
and Sedleys, and with the revilings of the political fanatics, 
if my imaginary plain dealer had gone on to say that, if the 
return of such misfortunes were ever rendered impossible, it 
would not be in virtue of the victory of the faith of Laud, or 
of that of Milton; and, as little, by the triumph of republican- 
ism, as by that of monarchy. But that the one thing needful 


for compassing this end was, that the people of England should 
second the efforts of an insignificant corporation, the establish- 
ment of which, a few years before the epoch of the great 
plague and the great fire, had been as little noticed, as they 
were conspicuous. 

Some twenty years before the outbreak of the plague a few 
calm and thoughtful students banded themselves together for 
the purpose, as they phrased it, of "improving natural knowl- 
edge." The ends they proposed to attain cannot be stated 
more clearly than in the words of one of the founders of the 
organization : — 

Our business was (precluding matters of theology and state affairs) 
to discourse and consider of philosophical enquiries, and such as related 
thereunto: — as Physick, Anatomy, Geometry, Astronomy, Navigation, 
Staticks, Magneticks, Chymicks, Mechanicks, and Natural Experiments; 
with the state of these studies and their cultivation at home and abroad. 
We then discoursed of the circulation of the blood, the valves in the veins, 
the venas lacte£e, the lymphatic vessels, the Copernican hypothesis, the 
nature of comets and new stars, the satellites of Jupiter, the oval shape (as 
it then appeared) of Saturn, the spots on the sun and its turning on its 
own axis, the inequalities and selenography of the moon, the several phases 
of Venus and Mercury, the improvement of telescopes and grinding of 
glasses for that purpose, the weight of air, the possibility or impossibility 
of vacuities and nature's abhorrence thereof, the Torricellian experiment in 
quicksilver, the descent of heavy bodies and the degree of acceleration 
therein, with divers other things of like nature, some of which were then but 
new discoveries, and others not so generally known and embraced as now 
they are; with other things appertaining to what hath been called the New 
Philosophy, which from the times of Galileo at Florence, and Sir Francis 
Bacon (Lord Verulam) in England, hath been much cultivated in Italy, 
France, Germany, and other parts abroad, as well as with us in England. 

The learned Dr. Wallis, writing in 1696, narrates in these 
words, what happened half a century before, or about 1645. 
The associates met at Oxford, in the rooms of Dr. Wilkins, 
who was destined to become a bishop; and subsequently 
coming together in London, they attracted the notice of the 
king. And it is a strange evidence of the taste for knowledge 


which the most obviously worthless of the Stuarts shared 
with his father and grandfather, that Charles the Second was 
not content with saying witty things about his philosophers, 
but did wise things with regard to them. For he not only 
bestowed upon them such attention as he could spare from his 
poodles and his mistresses, but, being in his usual state of 
impecuniosity, begged for them of the Duke of Ormond; 
and, that step being without effect, gave them Chelsea College, 
a charter, and a mace : crowning his favours in the best way 
they could be crowned, by burdening them no further with 
royal patronage or state interference. 

Thus it was that the half-dozen young men, studious of 
the "New Philosophy," who met in one another's lodgings in 
Oxford or in London, in the middle of the seventeenth century, 
grew in numerical and in real strength, until, in its latter 
part, the "Royal Society for the Improvement of Natural 
Knowledge" had already become famous, and had acquired 
a claim upon the veneration of Englishmen, which it has ever 
since retained, as the principal focus of scientific activity in 
our islands, and the chief champion of the cause it was formed 
to support. 

It was by the aid of the Royal Society that Newton pub- 
lished his Principia. If all the books in the world, except 
the Philosophical Transactions, were destroyed, it is safe to 
say that the foundations of physical science would remain 
unshaken, and that the vast intellectual progress of the last 
two centuries would be largely, though incompletely, recorded. 
Nor have any signs of halting or of decrepitude manifested 
themselves in our own times. As in Dr. Wallis's days, so in 
these, "our business is, precluding theology and state affairs, 
to discourse and consider of philosophical enquiries." But 
our "Mathematick" is one which Newton would have to go 
to school to learn; our "Staticks, Mechanicks, Magneticks, 
Chymicks, and Natural Experiments" constitute a mass of 
physical and chemical knowledge, a glimpse at which would 


compensate Galileo for the doings of a score of inquisitorial 
cardinals; our "Physick" and "Anatomy" have embraced 
such infinite varieties of beings, have laid open such new 
worlds in time and space, have grappled, not unsuccessfully, 
with such complex problems, that the eyes of Vesalius and of 
Harvey might be dazzled by the sight of the tree that has 
grown out of their grain of mustard seed. 

The fact is perhaps rather too much, than too little, forced 
upon one's notice, nowadays, that all this marvelous intel- 
lectual growth has a no less wonderful expression in practical 
life; and that, in this respect, if in no other, the movement 
symbolized by the progress of the Royal Society stands with- 
out a parallel in the history of mankind. 

A series of volumes as bulky as the Transactions of the Royal 
Society might possibly be filled with the subtle speculations 
of the Schoolmen; not improbably, the obtaining a mastery 
over the products of mediaeval thought might necessitate an 
even greater expenditure of time and of energy than the ac- 
quirement of the "New Philosophy"; but though such work 
engrossed the best intellects of Europe for a longer time than 
has elapsed since the great fire, its effects were "writ in water," 
so far as our social state is concerned. 

On the other hand, if the noble first President of the Royal 
Society could revisit the upper air and once more gladden his 
eyes with a sight of the familiar mace, he would find himself 
in the midst of a material civilization more different from 
that of his day, than that of the seventeenth was from that 
of the first century. And if Lord Brouncker's native sagacity 
had not deserted his ghost, he would need no long reflection 
to discover that all these great ships, these railways, these 
telegraphs, these factories, these printing-presses, without 
which the whole fabric of modern English society would 
collapse into a mass of stagnant and starving pauperism, — 
that all these pillars of our State are but the ripples and the 
bubbles upon the surface of that great spiritual stream, the 


springs of which only, he and his fellows were privileged to 
see; and seeing, to recognize as that which it behoved them 
above all things to keep pure and undefiled. 

It may not be too great a flight of imagination to conceive 
our noble revenant not forgetful of the great troubles of his 
own day, and anxious to know how often London had been 
burned down since his time, and how often the plague had 
carried off its thousands. He would have to learn that, 
although London contains tenfold the inflammable matter 
that it did in 1666; though, not content with filling our rooms 
with woodwork and light draperies, we must needs lead 
inflammable and explosive gases into every corner of our 
streets and houses, we never allow even a street to burn down. 
And if he asked how this had come about, we should have 
to explain that the improvement of natural knowledge has 
furnished us with dozens of machines for throwing water upon 
fires, any one of which would have furnished the ingenious 
Mr. Hooke, the first "curator and experimenter" of the 
Royal Society, with ample materials for discourse before 
half a dozen meetings of that body; and that, to say truth, 
except for the progress of natural knowledge, we should not 
have been able to make even the tools by which these machines 
are constructed. And, further, it would be necessary to add, 
that although severe fires sometimes occur and inflict great 
damage, the loss is very generally compensated by societies, 
the operations of which have been rendered possible only by 
the progress of natural knowledge in the direction of mathe- 
matics, and the accumulation of wealth in virtue of other 
natural knowledge. 

But the plague? My Lord Brouncker's observation would 
not, I fear, lead him to think that Englishmen of the nineteenth 
century are purer in life, or more fervent in religious faith, 
than the generation which could produce a Boyle, an Evelyn, 
and a Milton. He might find the mud of society at the 
bottom, instead of at the top, but I fear that the sum total 


would be as deserving of swift judgment as at the time of the 
Restoration. And it would be our duty to explain once more, 
and this time not without shame, that we have no reason to 
believe that it is the improvement of our faith, nor that of 
our morals, which keeps the plague from our city; but, again, 
that it is the improvement of our natural knowledge. 

We have learned that pestilences will only take up their 
abode among those who have prepared unswept and ungar- 
nished residences for them. Their cities must have narrow, 
unwatered streets, foul with accumulated garbage. Their 
houses must be ill-drained, ill-lighted, ill-ventilated. Their 
subjects must be ill-washed, ill-fed, ill-clothed. The London 
of 1665 was such a city. The cities of the East, where plague 
has an enduring dwelling, are such cities. We, in later times, 
have learned somewhat of Nature, and partly obey her. 
Because of this partial improvement of our natural knowledge 
and of that fractional obedience, we have no plague; because 
that knowledge is still very imperfect and that obedience yet 
incomplete, typhoid is our companion and cholera our visitor. 
But it is not presumptuous to express the belief that, when 
our knowledge is more complete and our obedience the expres- 
sion of our knowledge, London will count her centuries of 
freedom from typhoid and cholera, as she now gratefully 
reckons her two hundred years of ignorance of that plague 
which swooped upon her thrice in the first half of the seven- 
teenth century. 

Surely, there is nothing in these explanations which is not 
fully borne out by the facts? Surely, the principles involved 
in them are now admitted among the fixed beliefs of all think- 
ing men? Surely, it is true that our countrymen are less 
subject to fire, famine, pestilence, and all the evils which 
result from a want of command over and due anticipation of 
the course of Nature, than were the countrymen of Milton; 
and health, wealth, and well-being are more abundant with 
us than with them? But no less certainly is the difference 


due to the improvement of our knowledge of Nature, and 
the extent to which that improved knowledge has been incor- 
porated with the household words of men, and has supplied 
the springs of their daily actions. 

Granting for a moment, then, the truth of that which the 
depredators of natural knowledge are so fond of urging, that 
its improvement can only add to the resources of our material 
civilization; admitting it to be possible that the founders of 
the Royal Society themselves looked for not other reward 
than this, I cannot confess that I was guilty of exaggeration 
when I hinted, that to him who had the gift of distinguishing 
between prominent events and important events, the origin 
of a combined effort on the part of mankind to improve 
natural knowledge might have loomed larger than the Plague 
and have outshone the glare of the Fire; as a something 
fraught with a wealth of beneficence to mankind, in compari- 
son with which the damage done by those ghastly evils would 
shrink into insignificance. 

It is very certain that for every victim slain by the plague, 
hundreds of mankind exist and find a fair share of happiness 
in the world by the aid of the spinning jenny. And the great 
fire, at its worst, could not have burned the supply of coal, 
the daily working of which, in the bowels of the earth, made 
possible by the steam pump, gives rise to an amount of wealth 
to which the millions lost in old London are but as an old song. 

But spinning jenny and steam pump are, after all, but 
toys, possessing an accidental value; and natural knowledge 
creates multitudes of more subtle contrivances, the praises 
of which do not happen to be sung because they are not 
directly convertible into instruments for creating wealth. 
When I contemplate natural knowledge squandering such 
gifts among men, the only appropriate comparison I can find 
for her is to liken her to such a peasant woman as one sees in 
the Alps, striding ever upward, heavily burdened, and with 
mind bent only on her home; but yet without effort and 


without thought, knitting for her children. Now stockings 
are good and comfortable things, and the children will un- 
doubtedly be much the better for them; but surely it would 
be short-sighted, to say the least of it, to depreciate this 
toiling mother as a mere stocking-machine — a mere provider 
of physical comforts? 

However, there are blind leaders of the blind, and not a 
few of them, who take this view of natural knowledge, and 
can see nothing in the bountiful mother of humanity but a 
sort of comfort-grinding machine. According to them, the 
improvement of natural knowledge always has been, and 
always must be, synonymous with no more than the improve- 
ment of the material resources and the increase of the grati- 
fications of men. 

Natural knowledge is, in their eyes, no real mother of 
mankind, bringing them up with kindness, and, if need be, 
with sternness, in the way they should go, and instructing 
them in all things needful for their welfare; but a sort of 
fairy god-mother, ready to furnish her pets with shoes of 
swiftness, swords of sharpness, and omnipotent Aladdin's 
lamps, so that they may have telegraphs to Saturn, and see 
the other side of the moon, and thank God they are better 
than their benighted ancestors. 

If this talk were true, I, for one, should not greatly care to 
toil in the service of natural knowledge. I think I would just 
as soon be quietly chipping my own flint axe, after the manner 
of my forefathers a few thousand years back, as be troubled 
with the endless malady of thought which now infests us all, 
for such reward. But I venture to say that such views are 
contrary alike to reason and to fact. Those who discourse 
in such fashion seem to me to be so intent upon trying to see 
what is above Nature, or what is behind her, that they are 
blind to what stares them in the face in her. 

I should not venture thus to speak strongly if my justifica- 
tion were not to be found in the simplest and most obvious 


facts, — if it needed more than an appeal to the most notorious 
truths to justify my assertion, that the improvement of natural 
knowledge, whatever direction it has taken, and however low 
the aims of those who may have commenced it — has not only 
conferred practical benefits on men, but, in so doing, has 
effected a revolution in their conceptions of the universe and 
of themselves, and has profoundly altered their modes of 
thinking and their views of right and wrong. I say that 
natural knowledge, seeking to satisfy natural wants, has found 
the ideas which can alone still spiritual cravings. I say that 
natural knowledge, in desiring to ascertain the laws of com- 
fort, has been driven to discover those of conduct, and to lay 
the foundations of a new morality. 

Let us take these points separately; and first, what 
great ideas has natural knowledge introduced into men's 

I cannot but think that the foundations of all natural 
knowledge were laid when the reason of man first came face 
to face with the facts of Nature; when the savage first learned 
that the fingers of one hand are fewer than those of both ; 
that it is shorter to cross a stream than to head it; that a 
stone stops where it is unless it be moved, and that it drops 
from the hand which lets it go; that light and heat come and 
go with the sun; that sticks burn away in a fire; that plants 
and animals grow and die; that if he struck his fellow savage 
a blow he would make him angry, and perhaps get a blow in 
return, while if he offered him a fruit he would please him, 
and perhaps receive a fish in exchange. When men had 
acquired this much knowledge, the outlines, rude though they 
were, of mathematics, of physics, of chemistry, of biology, 
of moral, economical, and political science, were sketched. 
Nor did the germ of religion fail when science began to bud. 
Listen to words which, though new, are yet three thousand 
years old : — 


. . . When in heaven the stars about the moon 
Look beautiful, when all the winds are laid, 
And every height comes out, and jutting peak 
And valley, and the immeasurable heavens 
Break open to their highest, and all the stars 
Shine, and the shepherd gladdens in his heart. 

If the half-savage Greek could share our feelings thus far, 
it is irrational to doubt that he went further, to find as we do, 
that upon that brief gladness there follows a certain sorrow, — 
the little light of awakened human intelligence shines so mere 
a spark amidst the abyss of the unknown and unknowable; 
seems so insufficient to do more than illuminate the imper- 
fections that cannot be remedied, the aspirations that cannot 
be realized, of man's own nature. But in this sadness, this 
consciousness of the limitation of man, this sense of an open 
secret which he cannot penetrate, lies the essence of all reli- 
gion; and the attempt to embody it in the forms furnished 
by the intellect is the origin of the higher theologies. 

Thus it seems impossible to imagine but that the founda- 
tions of all knowledge — secular or sacred — were laid when 
intelligence dawned, though the superstructure remained 
for long ages so slight and feeble as to be compatible with the 
existence of almost any general view respecting the mode of 
governance of the universe. No doubt, from the first, there 
were certain phenomena which, to the rudest mind, presented 
a constancy of occurrence, and suggested that a fixed order 
ruled, at any rate, among them. I doubt if the grossest of 
Fetish worshippers ever imagined that a stone must have a 
god within it to make it fall, or that a fruit had a god within 
it to make it taste sweet. With regard to such matters as 
these, it is hardly questionable that mankind from the first 
took strictly positive and scientific views. 

But, with respect to all the less familiar occurrences which 
present themselves, uncultured man, no doubt, has always 
taken himself as the standard of comparison, as the centre 


and measure of the world; nor could he well avoid doing so. 
And finding that his apparently uncaused will has a powerful 
effect in giving rise to many occurrences, he naturally enough 
ascribed other and greater events to other and greater voli- 
tions, and came to look upon the world and all that therein 
is, as the product of the volitions of persons like himself, 
but stronger, and capable of being appeased or angered, as 
he himself might be soothed or irritated. Through such 
conceptions of the plan and working of the universe all 
kind have passed, or are passing. And we may now consider 
what has been the effect of the improvement of natural knowl- 
edge on the views of men who have reached this stage, and who 
have begun to cultivate natural knowledge with no desire 
but that of "increasing God's honour and bettering man's 

For example, what could seem wiser, from a mere material 
point of view, more innocent, from a theological one, to an 
ancient people, than that they should learn the exact succes- 
sion of the seasons, as warnings for their husbandmen; or 
the position of the stars, as guides to their rude navigators? 
But what has grown out of this search for natural knowledge 
of so merely useful a character? You all know the reply. 
Astronomy, — which of all sciences has filled men's minds 
with general ideas of a character most foreign to their daily 
experience, and has, more than any other, rendered it impos- 
sible for them to accept the beliefs of their fathers. Astron- 
omy, — which tells them that this so vast and seemingly 
solid earth is but an atom among atoms, whirling, no man 
knows whither, through illimitable space; which demonstrates 
that what we call the peaceful heaven above us, is but that 
space, filled by an infinitely subtle matter whose particles 
are seething and surging, like the waves of an angry sea ; 
which opens up to us infinite regions where nothing is known, 
or ever seems to have been known, but matter and force, oper- 
ating according to rigid rules; which leads us to contemplate 


phenomena the very nature of which demonstrates that they 
must have had a beginning, and that they must have an end, 
but the very nature of which also proves that the beginning 
was, to our conceptions of time, infinitely remote, and that 
the end is as immeasurably distant. 

But it is not alone those who pursue astronomy who ask 
for bread and receive ideas. What more harmless than the 
attempt to lift and distribute water by pumping it; what 
more absolutely and grossly utilitarian? Yet out of pumps 
grew the discussions about Nature's abhorrence of a vacuum; 
and then it was discovered that Nature does not abhor a 
vacuum, but that air has weight; and that notion paved the 
way for the doctrine that all matter has weight, and that the 
force which produces weight is co-extensive with the universe, 
— in short, to the theory of universal gravitation and endless 
force. While learning how to handle gases led to the discovery 
of oxygen, and to modern chemistry, and to the notion of the 
indestructibility of matter. 

Again, what simpler, or more absolutely practical, than 
the attempt to keep the axle of a wheel from heating when 
the wheel turns round very fast? How useful for carters and 
gig drivers to know something about this; and how good 
were it, if any ingenious person would find out the cause of 
such phenomena, and thence educe a general remedy for them. 
Such an ingenious person was Count Rumford; and he and 
his successors have landed us in the theory of the per- 
sistence, or indestructibility, of force. And in the infinitely 
minute, as in the infinitely great, the seekers after natural 
knowledge of the kinds called physical and chemical, have 
everywhere found a definite order and succession of events 
which seem never to be infringed. 

And how has it fared with " Physick " and Anatomy? Have 
the anatomist, the physiologist, or the physician, whose 
business it has been to devote themselves assiduously to that 
eminently practical and direct end, the alleviation of the 


sufferings of mankind, — have they been able to confine their 
vision more absolutely to the strictly useful? I fear they are 
the worst offenders of all. For if the astronomer has set 
before us the infinite magnitude of space, and the practical 
eternity of the duration of the universe; if the physical and 
chemical philosophers have demonstrated the infinite minute- 
ness of its constituent parts, and the practical eternity of 
matter and of force; and if both have alike proclaimed the 
universality of a definite and predicable order and succession 
of events, the workers in biology have not only accepted all 
these, but have added more startling theses of their own. 
For, as the astronomers discover in the earth no centre of the 
universe, but an eccentric speck, so the naturalists find man 
to be no centre of the living world, but one amidst endless 
modifications of life; and as the astronomers observe the 
mark of practically endless time set upon the arrangements 
of the solar system so the student of life finds the records of 
ancient forms of existence peopling the world for ages, which, 
in relation to human experience, are infinite. 

Furthermore, the physiologist finds life to be as dependent 
for its manifestation of particular molecular arrangements 
as any physical or chemical phenomenon; and wherever he 
extends his researches, fixed order and unchanging causation 
reveal themselves, as plainly as in the rest of Nature. 

Nor can I find that any other fate has awaited the germ of 
Religion. Arising, like all other kinds of knowledge, out of 
the action and interaction of man's mind, with that which is 
not man's mind, it has taken the intellectual coverings of 
Fetishism or Polytheism; of Theism or Atheism; of Super- 
stition or Rationalism. With these, and their relative merits 
and demerits, I have nothing to do; but this it is needful for 
my purpose to say, that if the religion of the present differs 
from that of the past, it is because the theology of the present 
has become more scientific than that of the past; because it 
has not only renounced idols of wood and idols of stone, but 


begins to see the necessity of breaking in pieces the idols 
built up of books and traditions and fine-spun ecclesiastical 
cobwebs: and of cherishing the noblest and most human of 
man's emotions, by worship "for the most part of the silent 
sort" at the Altar of the Unknown. 

Such are a few of the new conceptions implanted in our 
minds by the improvement of natural knowledge. Men 
have acquired the ideas of the practically infinite extent of the 
universe and of its practical eternity; they are familiar with 
the conception that our earth is but an infinitesimal fragment 
of that part of the universe which can be seen; and that, 
nevertheless, its duration is, as compared with our standards 
of time, infinite. They have further acquired the idea that 
man is but one of innumerable forms of life now existing on 
the globe, and that the present existences are but the last of 
an immeasurable series of predecessors. Moreover, every 
step they have made in natural knowledge has tended to extend 
and rivet in their minds the conception of a definite order of 
the universe — which is embodied in what are called, by an 
unhappy metaphor, the laws of Nature — and to narrow the 
range and loosen the force of men's belief in spontaneity, or 
in changes other than such as arise out of that definite order 

Whether these ideas are well or ill founded is not the ques- 
tion. No one can deny that they exist, and have been the 
inevitable outgrowth of the improvement of natural knowledge. 
And if so, it cannot be doubted that they are changing the 
form of men's most cherished and most important convictions. 

And as regards the second point — the extent to which the 
improvement of natural knowledge has remodelled and altered 
what may be termed the intellectual ethics of men, — what 
are among the moral convictions most fondly held by bar- 
barous and semi-barbarous people? 

They are the convictions that authority is the soundest 
basis of belief; that merit attaches to a readiness to beheve; 


that the doubting disposition is a bad one, and sceptisicm a 
sin; that when good authority has pronounced what is to 
be believed, and faith has accepted it, reason has no further 
duty. There are many excellent persons who yet hold by 
these principles, and it is not my present business, or inten- 
tion, to discuss their views. All I wish to bring clearly before 
your minds is the unquestionable fact, that the improvement 
of natural knowledge is effected by methods which directly 
give the lie to all these convictions, and assume the exact 
reverse of each to be true. 

The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to 
acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the 
highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin. And 
it cannot be otherwise, for every great advance in natural 
knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority, 
the cherishing of the keenest scepticism, the annihilation of 
the spirit of blind faith; and the most ardent votary of science 
holds his firmest convictions, not because the men he most 
venerates hold them; not because their verity is testified 
by portents and wonders; but because his experience teaches 
him that whenever he chooses to bring these convictions into 
contact with their primary source. Nature — whenever he 
thinks fit to test them by appealing to experiment and to 
observation — Nature will confirm them. The man of 
science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but 
by verification. 

Thus, without for a moment pretending to despise the 
practical results of the improvement of natural knowledge, 
and its beneficial influence on material civilization, it must, 
I think, be admitted that the great ideas, some of which I 
have indicated, and the ethical spirit which I have endeavoured 
to sketch, in the few moments which remained at my dis- 
posal, constitute the real and permanent significance of natural 

If these ideas be destined, as I believe they are, to be more 


and more firmly established as the world grows older; if that 
spirit be fated, as I believe it is, to extend itself into all de- 
partments of human thought, and to become coextensive 
with the range of knowledge; if, as our race approaches its 
maturity, it discovers, as I believe it will, that there is but one 
kind of knowledge and but one method of acquiring it; then 
we, who are still children, may justly feel it our highest duty 
to recognize the advisableness of improving natural knowl- 
edge, and so to aid ourselves and our successors in our course 
towards the noble goal which lies before mankind. 


Henry S. Pritchett 

The progress of science — like human progress in all direc- 
tions — is a somewhat irregular process. In this process we 
can generally distinguish several stages, which, however, 
merge constantly into one another. The first stage is that 
of the collection of scientific data; the next, some sort of log- 
ical arrangement of the data; and finally, generalizations 
made in the effort to interpret the phenomena. This chrono- 
logical arrangement, however, is subject to constant varia- 
tions. The human mind is active in the construction of 
theories formed far in advance of positive knowledge; and 
while such theories are often erroneous, they nevertheless 
serve to stimulate investigation and to lead ultimately to 
truth. Scientific progress is thus made up of a continuous 
series of collections of fact, while efforts at interpretation 
occur, not in their chronologic order, but rather in the order 
which the temperaments of men and the tendencies of the 
age may suggest. 

For this reason it is seldom possible to compare sharply 
the state of science at two distinct epochs. There are, to be 
sure, discoveries which belong to a given year, but they are 
ordinarily the culmination of long periods of collection and 
comparison of facts, which represent rather processes than 
distinct efforts, and the men who contribute most to the col- 
lection and correlation of facts are often unknown to the 

' From the Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 100, pp. 613-625. Nov., 1907. Re- 
printed by permission of the author and the pubUshers. 


Furthermore, it is to be remembered when one considers 
physical science that the facts and the phenomena of science 
are the same to-day as fifty years ago. Chemical reactions, 
the nature and growth of microbe organisms, the transforma- 
tions of energy, are the same in nature to-day as they were 
a half-century ago. For this reason, the state of science at 
two distinct epochs cannot be contrasted in the same way 
as one might compare two epochs in a creative art, such as 
literature, in which a whole new school of authors may have 
grown up in consequence of a new social factor or a new 
literary cult. 

Comparisons of scientific progress at two distinct epochs 
resemble rather two views from a mountain, one view-point 
a little higher than the other, each looking out upon the same 
topography, but showing hills and valleys and streams in 
greater detail or with greater clearness from one point than 
from the other by reason of the difference in altitude. In 
some such way one may compare the outlook in science to-day 
with that of a half-century ago; the facts and the phenomena 
are the same, the point of view has changed enormously. 

To bring such a view within the compass of a brief discus- 
sion, one needs also to keep in mind two other facts. First, 
that in making such a comparison, one is viewing the scien- 
tific horizon, not from the standpoint of the specialist in 
any department of science, but rather from the standpoint 
of the educated American. Such a man is not interested in 
the minute subdivisions of science, nor in the names of the 
specialists who have served it; but rather in the outcome, in 
the direction both of utilitarian ends and of intellectual and 
moral results, which the progress of science promises to the 
race. Second, in making such a comparison from the stand- 
point of the general reader, it is most important to keep in 
view the unity of human knowledge. Science is essentially 
one, and while, for the sake of convenience, it must be classi- 
fied into numerous subdivisions, these parts have a relation 


to the whole. Thus, physical science not only concerns itself 
with the objective world, but it goes far beyond this and works 
at the relation between human circumstances and the neces- 
sary laws which govern physical objects. In the same way, 
the historical sciences transcend the social phenomena with 
which they are immediately concerned and attempt an inter- 
pretation of these in the light of physical law. Thus all 
divisions of science are inextricably yoked together in the 
common effort to explain the history of man, and the adjust- 
ment of the human race to its environment. 

When one considers science in this larger aspect he realizes 
that the middle of the nineteenth century and the beginning 
of the twentieth are two extremely interesting epochs to 
compare. After centuries of accumulation of facts, the men 
of the first half of the nineteenth century had begun those 
great generalizations which the mid-century saw securely in 
the grasp of the human mind, and the fifty years which 
have since elapsed have borne a rich fruitage of those 

The fundamental contrasts which stand out most promi- 
nently in such a comparison may be grouped under four 
heads : — 

1. The last fifty years have seen a great betterment of the 
theoretical basis of physical science. 

2. This development has been marked by a notable stim- 
ulation of scientific research; a differentiation of scientific 
effort, and the creation thereby of a great number of special 
sciences or departments of science. 

3. The possession of a secure theoretical basis and the 
intellectual quickening which has followed it have resulted 
in the application of science to the arts and to the industries 
in such measure as the world has never before known. These 
applications have to do with the comfort, health, pleasures, 
and happiness of the human race, and affect vitally all the 
conditions of modern life. 


4. Last, but perhaps in many respects the most significant 
of all, is the effect which has been produced upon the religious 
faith and the philosophy of life of the civilized wprld by the 
widespread introduction of what may be called the modern 
scientific spirit. 

I shall endeavor to point out the more significant move- 
ments which group themselves under these four heads, begging 
the reader always to bear in mind the fundamental facts to 
which I have alluded, that is to say, the desire to present a 
view, not of the scientific specialist, but of the educated intel- 
ligent American; and secondly, to keep in mind at the same 
time, notwithstanding the differentiations of science, the 
essential unity of human knowledge. 

The Betterment of the Theoretical Basis of Physical Science 

The fundamental sciences which have opened to us such 
knowledge of the laws of the universe as we now possess are 
mathematics, chemistry, and physics. The first of these 
deals with numerical relations, and it has been the tool with 
which the human mind has had most experience. It had 
advanced to a high stage of perfection long before any other 
branch of science had attained even respectable standing. 
Men learned to reason in abstract relations with great skill 
and proficiency long in advance of the time when they reasoned 
from physical phenomena to their cause. The end of the 
eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth 
saw a galaxy of astronomers and mathematicians of whom 
Laplace and Gauss were the most fruitful, who carried mathe- 
matical treatment of the problems of astronomy and geodesy 
to a point which left little to be desired. The last century 
has seen little improvement in these processes, but mathe- 
matics has remained the most facile tool in the hands of the 
physical investigator, in the interpretation of physical phe- 
nomena, and in the expression of the transformations of 
energy. But for the significant progress which has been 

SCIENCE ' 189 

made in the last fifty years we are indebted to the other two 
fundamental sciences, chemistry and physics. The first 
deals with the composition and transformation of matter; 
the second with energy and the transformation of energy. 

The connection between physics and chemistry is so inti- 
mate that it is impossible to draw a line of separation. In 
general, we are concerned in chemistry with the elements 
which, by their combination, form various substances, and 
with the composition of these substances; while in physics 
we are concerned with matter as a mass, as a substance repre- 
senting a fixed composition, though subject to changes of 
form and of place. Changes by which the identity of the 
body is affected, such as, for example, when hydrogen and 
oxygen combine to form water, are chemical changes and do 
not belong to physics; while changes which matter undergoes 
without altering its composition or destroying the identity 
of the body are physical and are part of the study of physics. 
Inasmuch, however, as chemical changes are accompanied 
by changes of energy, there is a broad region which belongs 
to the investigations both of the physicist and of the chemist, 
and which completely connects those two fundamental sciences. 

In the early part of the nineteenth century, John Dalton 
announced his famous atomic theory, which has served to 
unify the known or suspected laws of chemical combination. 
Dalton discovered that to every element a definite number 
could be assigned, and that these numbers, or their multiples, 
govern the formation of all compounds. Oxygen, for instance, 
unites with other elements in the proportion of eight parts 
of weight, or some multiple thereof, and never in other ratios. 
With the help of these atomic weights — or combining parts, 
as they are sometimes called — the composition of any sub- 
stance could be represented by a simple formula. This theory 
had become well established by the middle of the nineteenth 
century as the thread upon which all chemical results hung, 
and the second half of the century began under the stimulation 



which this discovery brought about. Before this period, 
inorganic chemistry — that is, the chemistry of the metals, 
of earths, of common oxides, bases, and salts — had received 
the greatest attention, and during the first half of the nine- 
teenth century inorganic chemistry embraced almost all the 
work of chemists. The second half of the nineteenth century 
has been the day of organic chemistry. It was at first sup- 
posed that the two fields of research were absolutely distinct, 
but this belief was overthrown by Woehler, who showed that 
urea, an organic body, was easily prepared from inorganic 
materials, and since that day a vast number of organic 
syntheses have been effected. Out of this study has grown 
the basis of the chemical theory of to-day, that is to say, the 
conception of chemical structure, which has placed the chem- 
istry of the twentieth century upon a theoretical foundation 
vastly more secure and vastly more significant than that of 
half a century ago. 

Briefly stated, this theory of chemical structure is as follows: 
Every atom, so far as its union with other atoms is concerned, 
is seen to have a certain atom-fixing power, which is known 
as its valence. For example, take hydrogen as the standard 
of reference, and consider some of its simplest compounds. 
In hydrochloric acid, one atom of hydrogen is added to one 
of chlorine. These elementary atoms combine only in the 
ratio of one to one. They are called "univalent," that is, 
their power of fixing or uniting with other atoms is unity. In 
water, on the other hand, a single oxygen atom holds two of 
hydrogen in combination, and so oxygen is called a bivalent 
element. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and other elements go still 
farther and are trivalent, while carbon is a quadrivalent sub- 
stance, forming, therefore, compounds of the most complex 
type. The theory as thus stated is no mere speculation. It is 
the statement of observed fact, and this shows that the atoms 
unite, not at haphazard, but according to certain rules. 

A notable advance took place in the years i860 to 1870 in 


the discovery of a general law connecting all the chemical 
elements. That those elements are related was early rec- 
ognized, but it was not until the epoch-making work of 
Mendeleeff that the periodic variation in their properties was 
recognized, and the connection between the valency of the 
atom and its properties and compounds was interpreted. 

Within twenty years chemistry has been enormously 
developed upon its electrical side, both theoretically and 
practically. From a purely chemical point of view, probably 
the most important electrical phenomena are those of elec- 
trolysis. When a current of electricity passes through a 
compound solution, the latter undergoes decomposition, and 
the dissolved substance is separated into two parts which 
move with unequal velocities in opposite directions. The 
conducting liquid is called an electrolyte, and the separated 
parts, or particles, of the compound in solution are termed 
its ions. One ion is positively, the other negatively, electri- 
fied, and hence they tend to accumulate around the opposite 
poles. Under suitable conditions, the separation can be made 
permanent, and this fact is of the greatest significance in the 
different processes of electrometallurgy. 

The modern science of physics has its basis in the doctrine 
of the conservation of energy. This doctrine as stated in 
the words of Maxwell is, "The total energy of any material 
system is a quantity which can neither be increased nor 
diminished by any action between the parts of the system, 
though it may be transformed into any of the forms of which 
energy is susceptible." A little more than a half-century 
ago, our knowledge of physics consisted in the main of a large 
mass of facts loosely tied together by theories not always 
consistent. Between 1845 and 1850 the labors of Mayer, 
Joule, Helmholtz, and Sir William Thomson had placed the 
theory of the conservation of energy upon firm ground, and 
for the last half-century it has been the basic law for testing 
the accuracy of physical experiments and for extending phys- 


ical theory. To the presence of such a highly defined and 
consistent theory is due the great development which our 
generation has witnessed. 

The most remarkable development of the half-century 
in the domain of physics has gone on in that field included 
under the name radio-activity, a development which bids 
fair to affect the whole theory of physical processes. By 
radiation is meant the propagation of energy in straight lines. 
This is effected by vibrations in the ether which fills all space, 
both molecular and inter-stellar. This theory is based upon 
the conception that the vibrations are due to oscillations of 
the ultimate particles of matter. 

Experiments in vacuum tubes by various investigators 
led to a long series of most interesting results, culminating 
in the discovery by Roentgen in 1895 of the so-called X-rays. 
These rays have properties quite different from those of 
ordinary light. They are not deflected by a magnet and will 
penetrate glass, tin, aluminum, and in general metals of low 
atomic weight. In 1896, Becquerel discovered that uranium 
possessed the property of spontaneously emitting rays capable 
of passing through bodies opaque to ordinary light. 

Shortly after the discovery of this property in uranium 
Madame and Professor Curie succeeded in separating from 
pitchblende two new substances of very high radio-activity, 
called radium and polonium, the latter named after her native 
land, Poland. 

The radiations from these various substances are invisible 
to the eye, but act upon a photographic plate and discharge 
an electrified body. A very active substance like radium 
will cause phosphorescent substance to become luminous. 

If a magnetic field is applied to a pencil of radium rays 
the rays are separated out into three kinds, much as light 
rays are sifted out by passing through a prism. One set of 
rays is bent to the left, another to the right, and the third 
set keeps on in the original direction. 


The emission of the particles which deviate to the left and 
right appears to proceed from explosions in some of the atoms 
of these substances. It is estimated that two hundred thou- 
sand millions are expelled from one gram of radium bromide 
every second, yet the number of atoms in a gram is so 
enormous that this rate of emission may continue some 
years without an appreciable wasting of the mass of the 

The discovery of these substances with their remarkable 
properties has not only led to interesting applications of the 
most novel kind, but has stimulated the imagination of inves- 
tigators, and given rise to various new explanations of cosmic 
phenomena. For example, it has been suggested that the 
internal heat of the earth may be kept up by the heat emitted 
from radium and other radio-active matter. All such theories 
are yet in the speculative stage. It may be said in general 
that, while the phenomena presented by the radio-active 
substances have caused physicists to revise physical theory 
in respect to molecular energy, nothing has been discovered 
which is inconsistent with the fundamental law of the con- 
servation of energy. 

Progress no less real has been made in those sciences which 
deal with the study of the human body and the human mind. 
Physiology, during the last half of the nineteenth century, 
has gained nearly all our present knowledge of the chemistry 
of digestion and secretion and of the mechanics of circulation, 
while psychology has advanced from a branch of philosophy 
to the position of a distinctive science. 

From whatever point of view one regards human progress, 
he will be led to realize that one of the greatest achievements 
of the race is the work of the army of scholars and investigators 
to whom is due the betterment in these fifty years of the 
theoretical basis of these two fundamental physical sciences, 
a basis which is not only intellectually sound, but intellectually 
fruitful. The roll of these names — chemists, physicists. 


biologists, inventors, investigators in all fields of human knowl- 
edge — is made up from all lands. It is a world's roll of honor 
in which not only individuals but nations have earned immor- 
tality. Of all the men whose names are here written, there 
are two whose work is so fundamental and far-reaching that 
the world is glad to accord to them a preeminence. These 
are the Frenchman, Louis Pasteur, and the Englishman, 
Charles Darwin. 

The Differentiation of Science and the Development of 
Special Sciences 

Under the stimulus of the great fundamental theories which 
have tended to unify chemistry and physics, and also to direct 
attention to a vast field common to both and previously un- 
explored, a large number of special sciences, or divisions of 
science, have been developed. Once the law of chemical 
structure was ascertained and the possibilities were made 
evident which this law involved, and once the law of the con- 
servation of energy was clear and the multiform transforma- 
tions which might be made under such a law formulated, 
there was opened in every nook and corner of the physical 
universe the opportunity for new combinations and for new 
transformations. The result of this has been that in the last 
five decades physicists and chemists, having these threads 
in their hands as guides, have gone off into all sorts of by- 
paths. There has grown up through these excursions a great 
number of minor divisions of science, dependent on processes 
partly physical and partly chemical, but all related to one 
another and to the fundamental sciences of chemistry and 

By means of that wonderful instrument, the spectroscope, 
has arisen the combination of the old science of astronomy 
with physics, known as astro-physics. There have been in- 
teresting gains in the older astronomy during this period, 
such as the discoveries of the new satellites of Mars, of Jupiter, 


and of Saturn, all by American astronomers; the discovery 
of some hundreds of asteroids with the unexpected form of 
some of their orbits; and the variation of the terrestrial lati- 
tude. All these discoveries are in the direction of the appli- 
cations of gravitational astronomy upon the foundations laid 
by Newton, Laplace, and Gauss. The significant gains have 
come, however, in the new astronomy, which is really celestial 
physics, and are the outcome of the modern spectroscope 
and photographic plate. The motion of stars and nebulae 
in the line of sight, and discovery of invisible companions by 
the doubling of the lines of the spectrum, and above all, the 
determinations of the physical constitution of the distant suns 
and nebulae have thrown a great light not only upon cosmic 
evolution, but upon the probable history of our own planet. 
Perhaps no one result of the whole study is so significant as 
this: In the far-distant suns which shine upon us, as well 
as in our own sun, we find only those same elements which 
exist in our own soil and in our own atmosphere. Just as 
the law of the combination of chemical elements and of the 
conservation of energy points to a uniform physical law on 
our planet, so also the unity of material composition through- 
out the universe of stars seems to point with equal significance 
to a physical unity of the whole universe. 

Early in the seventeenth century, certain "animalculae," 
as they were called, became recognized as the simplest form 
of life; but the modern science of bacteriology dates from the 
epoch-making investigations of Pasteur and Koch, conducted 
within the last thirty-five years. One of the most important 
steps was the introduction by Koch of trustworthy methods 
for separating individual bacterial species. Since many 
distinct species are indistinguishable from one another by 
size and shape, it was obviously impossible by the older 
methods of study to separate one from the other. Koch 
suggested the use of solid materials as culture media, thereby 
representing the conditions so often seen when such organic 


matter as bread becomes mouldy. He demonstrated that the 
addition of gelatin to the infusions employed for the successful 
cultivation of bacteria converted them into practically solid 
culture media without robbing them of any of their useful 
properties; and by the employment of such media it was 
possible to separate as pure cultures the individual species 
that one desired to analyze. The introduction of this method 
for the isolation and study of bacterial species in pure cultures 
constitutes perhaps the most important stimulus to the devel- 
opment of modern bacteriology. 

The studies made by Pasteur upon fermentation and the 
souring of wine, and upon the maladies of silkworms, together 
with Koch's studies upon the infections of wounds, and the 
appropriate methods of analyzing them, were rich in suggestion 
to the workers in this new field. Two of the most important 
results have been in the application of these studies to the 
problems of the sanitary engineer and to the work of preventive 

The drinking water of our cities is purified to-day by the 
process of natural sand filtration, by the septic tank process, 
etc. In these methods the living bacteria are the instruments 
by which the results are obtained. The sand grains in the 
filters serve only as objects to which the bacteria can attach 
themselves and multiply. By the normal life processes of 
the bacteria the polluting organic matter in the water is used 
up and inert material given off as a result. 

But even more important than this work of sanitation is 
the contribution of bacteriology to preventive medicine. 
Early in the course of his work, Pasteur discovered that certain 
virulent pathogenic bacteria, when kept under certain con- 
ditions, gradually lost their disease-producing power, with- 
out their other life properties being disturbed. When injected 
into animals in this attenuated state, there resulted a mild, 
temporary, and modified form of infection, usually followed 
by recovery. With recovery the animal so treated was 


immune from the activities of the fully virulent bacteria of 
the same species. The development of this fruitful idea has 
not only resulted in the saving of millions of money, but it 
has resulted as well in the prevention of human disease, the 
greatest triumph of modern science. 

A study of the laws of physics and chemistry in relation to 
living plants and animals led in a similar way to the discovery 
that the processes of the entire race history are reflected 
in the processes of the growth of the embryo, a result which 
created the new science of embryology. 

Similarly, in the studies of energy differentiations have gone 
on. Fifty years ago, our colleges had a single professor of 
what was called at that day natural philosophy. To-day, 
a modern college will divide this field among a corps of teachers 
and investigators, one devoting his attention to mechanics, 
another to heat, another to electricity, another to magnetism, 
and another to sound and light. In turn, electricity will be 
subdivided, the investigator concerning himself with a con- 
stantly narrowing field of phenomena, with the expectation 
of working out completely the problem whose solution is 
sought. All these departments of physical science, with 
their numerous sub-divisions, are the offspring of the funda- 
mental sciences chemistry and physics. No contrast is more 
striking in comparing the science of to-day with that of fifty 
years ago than this differentiation, unless it be the even more 
significant fact that, notwithstanding this differentiation and 
division of labor, the essential unity of science is more appar- 
ent than ever before. Astronomy, geology, and biology were, 
fifty years ago, separate, and to a large extent unrelated, 
sciences. To-day they are seen to flourish in a common soil. 

The Application of Science to the Arts and to the Industries 

In no other way has the march of science in the last half- 
century been so evident to the eyes of the average intelligent 
man as in its practical applications to the arts and industries. 


Modern life to-day is on a different plane from that of fifty 
years ago by reason of applied science alone. Whether this 
has added to the joy of living, and to the general happiness 
of mankind, is another question; but that it has raised the 
standard of health, that it has added enormously to the com- 
fort and to the conveniences of man, no one can dispute. 
The house of fifty years ago lacked the facilities of pure water; 
it was illuminated, at the best, by imperfect gas jets; it was 
warmed by the old-fashioned stove; and if situated in an iso- 
lated place, communication was possible only by messenger 
at the expense of time and labor. The modern sanitary water 
service, electric lighting, modern means of construction, and 
the telephone, make the dwelling-house of to-day a wholly 
different place from the dwelling-house of fifty years ago. 

Steam transportation had already begun its marvelous 
work before the epoch at which we start, but its great applica- 
tion has been made in the last half-century. Just as the fruit- 
ful theories of physics and chemistry have advanced physical 
science in all its applications, so also the elementary develop- 
ment and application of steam have blossomed in the last 
half-century into a transportation system which makes the 
world of to-day a wholly different world from that of fifty 
years ago. 

Perhaps the fundamental application of science which has 
done the most to change the face of the civilized world is the 
invention by Sir Henry Bessemer of a cheap means of manu- 
facturing steel from pig iron. On August 13, fifty-one years 
ago, he read before the British Association at Cheltenham 
a paper dealing with the invention which has made his name 
famous. His paper was entitled "The Manufacture of Malle- 
able Iron and Steel without Fuel" and described a new and 
cheap process of making steel from pig iron by blowing a blast 
of air through it when in a state of fusion, so as to clear it 
of all carbon, and then adding the requisite quantity of carbon 
to produce steel. Not one man in ten thousand knows who 


Sir Henry Bessemer was or what he did, but every man who 
touches civilization leads to-day a different life from that which 
he would have led, by reason of Bessemer's invention. Cheap 
steel is the basis of our material advancement. 

One of the most interesting applications of chemistry is 
that involved in the manufacture of aniline colors. Up to 
the time of the investigation of Sir William Perkin in 1856, 
commerce had depended on vegetable colors, which had been 
obtained at great cost and difficulty. That these rainbow 
hues could ever be procured from so insignificant a substance 
as coal tar seemed as improbable as anything which one could 
imagine, and yet from the labors of the chemist there have 
come in the last thirty years colors surpassing in beauty 
anything produced by nature. The manufacture of such 
colors has come to be a great industry, employing thousands 
of men and enormous capital, and this too out of a waste 
product which manufacturers were once quite ready to throw 

One of the most interesting combinations of chemistry and 
physics is that shown in the modern photograph. Photog- 
raphy as an art had reached a considerable stage of develop- 
ment by the early fifties, but the wet collodion process, as 
it was called, while possible for the professional, was difficult 
for the amateur. Plates had to be prepared and finished on 
the spot, transportation was difficult, and there was a demand 
for a process which could be used in the field as easily as in 
the office. The first step came in 1856 in the invention of 
what was called dry collodion, followed rapidly by similar 
inventions which did away with the troublesome preparation 
of the plate, and the modern camera, an instrument, so con- 
venient and easy of transportation, and yet so safe and sure 
in its results, that on the wildest expeditions the most perfect 
photographs can be taken. 

To-day the word which best represents to the popular mind 
the triumphant application of science is the word "electricity." 


The fruitful idea that electricity, like light, was only a form 
of energy, lies at the base of great inventions which have been 
made. The moment that electricity was produced by trans- 
forming other forms of energy, there became possible all sorts 
of machines which could not be imagined under any other 
hypothesis. It was in the development of this idea that the 
inventors have perfected during this half-century the electric 
motor, the electric light, the telephone, and the thousand 
separate devices by which mechanical energy is transformed 
into electric energy, and this again into heat or light. It is 
the machines for these marvelous transformations which have 
been invented in the last generation that have made the 
greatest difference in our modern life. The storage battery, 
the arc light, the incandescent light, and the telephone have 
all come in as actual parts of our everyday life within the 
memory of men of middle age, and, as a crowning exploit 
of the century, telegraphy without wires brings us messages 
from ships in mid-ocean. In every department of domestic 
life, in every line of transportation, in almost all methods 
of communication between men and cities, the application 
of electricity has come to play a great role. So numerous 
are these applications, so important are they to our comfort 
and to our well-being, that we have ceased to wonder at them, 
and year by year new applications are made which a few 
decades ago would have called forth astonishment, but which 
we receive as a part of the day's work. So great is this field, so 
promising are the applications which we may hope to see made, 
that no man can foretell what the inventions of the future 
may be. 

To-day we are interested not less in the applications of 
electricity than in its supply. So well is the law of transforma- 
tion of energy now understood and so sure are the results of 
our inventors, that we may confidently expect that the appli- 
cations of electricity to the arts and industries will reach 
almost any point of perfection. A vital question is, can a 


supply of energy be found which can be efficiently and cheaply 
transformed into electric energy? 

At present our chief source of electricity is coal, and the 
century just closing has given no particular indication of a 
possible rival to coal, unless it be water power. Over a large 
part of the earth's surface, however, neither coal nor water 
power is accessible. Furthermore, the supply of coal is limited. 
It is likely to become in the near future more and more expen- 
sive, and one of the great problems which the inventors of 
our day face is the problem of devising a cheap and effective 
source of energy for the production of power. 

There is one source to which all minds revert when this 
question is mentioned, a source most promising and yet one 
which has so far eluded the investigator. The sun on a clear 
day delivers upon each square yard of the earth's surface the 
equivalent of approximately two horse-power of mechanical 
energy working continuously. If even a fraction of this 
power could be transformed into mechanical or electrical 
energy and stored, it would do the world's work. Here is 
power delivered at our very doors without cost. How to 
store the energy so generously furnished, and keep it on tap 
for future use, is the problem. That the next half-century 
will see some solution thereof, chemical or otherwise, seems 

Perhaps in no way have the applications of science so min- 
istered to human happiness as in the contributions of the last 
fifty years to preventive medicine, surgery, and sanitation. 
Within this half-century Pasteur did his great work on sponta- 
neous generation and in the development of the theory of anti- 
toxins. Following in his steps, Lister applied the principles 
which Pasteur had enunciated, in the treatment of wounds and 
sores. The whole outcome has been a splendid step forward, 
not only in such matters as the treatment of diphtheria, yellow 
fever, and malaria, but also in the direction of preventive 
medicine. The scientific world is organizing for a fight to the 


death with tuberculosis, that worst malady of mankind, and 
if there is any such advance in general education and in gen- 
eral knowledge during the next fifty years as in the last, it 
is not too much to hope that this dread scourge of humanity 
may be vanquished. In no direction in which science touches 
life is there a greater contrast between the life of fifty years 
ago and that of to-day than in these matters of preventive 
medicine, of surgery, and of sanitation; and it is worth recall- 
ing that these advances have come, not through the profes- 
sional physician or surgeon, but through the laboratory 
investigations of the chemist and of the physicist. Applied 
chemistry and physics are the sources from which our sanitary 
and surgical gains have resulted. 

A no less striking application of science in this half-century 
is to be found in those matters which affect transportation, 
whether on land or sea. Within this brief span of a genera- 
tion and a half, steam transportation has been so enormously 
advanced that the transit of the largest oceans has become 
little more than a pleasure trip. Within this period the first 
electric car was set rolling over the earth's surface, and the 
whole development of modern transportation, including 
the automobile, belongs to this half-century. 

Equally impressive, but not so often referred to, are the 
applications of science in the transmission of intelligence. 
Fifty years ago the land telegraph was in its infancy, and its 
use was restricted to messages of pressing business importance. 
Within the span of time of which we are speaking, the tele- 
graph has been developed into an indispensable adjunct of 
every civilized man's business. Submarine cables extended 
under the sea connect all the continents of the earth. Not 
only have these enormous changes come, but the invention 
of the telephone makes it possible to transmit the human 
voice across the space of hundreds of miles; and finally, as 
a first-fruit of the twentieth-century inventor's work, wireless 
telegraphy sends its messages through the air from the distant 


ship to the shore. These apphcations, which enable each 
civilized man to know the business of all the rest, are to have 
an effect on our mode of life, on our relations with other nations, 
and on the general culture of the civilized world, such as we 
perhaps cannot even to-day imagine. One of the results of 
this development in America is the modern newspaper, filled 
with news from the ends of the earth. The ease of trans- 
mission makes it possible to report not only the important 
things, but the scandal and the gossip, each item of which 
ought to die in its own cradle. The modern sensational paper 
is one of the unripe fruits of the scientific applications of our 
age. Social development in the last half-century has lagged 
behind scientific progress and application. The education 
of the American people in obedience to law and in framing 
effective legislation for the distribution of the proceeds of 
production are far behind the scientific efficiency of the age. 
A serious question of civilization is, "How may the nation 
be rightly educated and wisely led, to the end that the tre- 
mendous productivity of applied science may ennoble and 
enrich, rather than vulgarize and corrupt it?" 

The Effect of Modern Scientific Research on the Religious Faith 
and the Philosophy of Life of the Civilized World 

It is not too much to say that the development of science 
in these last five decades has produced a greater effect upon 
the beliefs and the philosophy of civilized man than that of 
all the centuries preceding. Fifty years ago the scientific 
world stood upon the brink of a great philosophical conception 
as to the origin of the system of nature which we see about us. 
The epoch-making work of Laplace and his contemporary 
mathematicians upon the development of the solar system, 
the researches of Lyell concerning the history of our own earth, 
the work of Buffon and Lamarck, the reflections of the earlier 
thinkers, like Leibnitz, ScheUing, and Kant, all served in their 
respective branches of science to prepare the world for some 


generalizations as to the origin of life and the variations of 
living forms. In human history there had been recognized 
an evolution, one form of institution growing out of another, 
one race out of another, one language out of another. The 
evidence was beginning to be cumulative that the present is 
the child of the past, and that the living creatures which 
we see about us have been evolved, being descendants of 
ancestral forms on the whole simpler; that those ancestors 
were descended from still simpler forms, and so on backward. 
What was needed in 1857 was some well-grounded, intelli- 
gible explanation of the variation of species. This explana- 
tion came in 1859 in the publication of Charles Darwin's 
epoch-making book, The Oiigin of Species by Means of 
Natural Selection. Darwin showed that in natural selection, 
or what has also been called "the survival of the fittest," is 
found a natural process which results in the preservation of 
favorable variations. This process leads to the modification 
of each creature in relation to its organic conditions of life, 
and in most cases' the change may be regarded as an advance 
in organization. "Darwinism" is not to be confused with 
"evolution." Darwin's name has been given to one particular 
interpretation of the process of evolution. The actual fact 
of development is proved from so many converging lines that 
there can be no doubt of the fact itself, although the future 
growth of our ideas may largely modify the explanation that 
Darwin has given of it. 

Perhaps no single work has produced so great an impression 
upon the spirit of any age as has Darwin's memorable book 
upon the intellectual life of Europe and America. The book 
became at first the centre of a fierce intellectual discussion. 
Scientific men themselves were divided in their estimate of 
its importance and its soundness. In Boston, before the 
American Academy of Science and Arts, there went on during 
the winter of 1859 and i860 one of the most spirited scientific 
debates which our country has ever known, between Professor 


Louis Agassiz in opposition to Darwin's theory and Professor 
William A. Rogers in favor of it. Both were eloquent men, 
both were eminent in science, and perhaps no series of dis- 
cussions before a scientific body has been more interesting 
than those which these two great men carried on at this time. 

The outcome of the work of Darwin and his successors 
has been the practical acceptance by civilized men of the 
general theory of evolution, however they may differ about 
the process itself. While the work of the scientific men who 
have built up the doctrine of evolution, which to-day stands 
more firmly than ever as a reasonable interpretation of organic 
nature, was a scientific one and had nothing to do with ulti- 
mate problems, nevertheless it was inevitable that such a 
theory should excite the strongest opposition on the part 
of the theology of that day. The acrimony of that discussion 
has long since worn away. Men have had in fifty years a 
breathing time suflEicient to see that however opposed such an 
explanation of nature may be to the then accepted orthodox 
theory of creation, neither one nor the other was necessarily 
connected with true religious life. To-day, in one form or 
another, nearly all educated men accept the general theory of 
evolution as the process by which the universe has been 

The chief effect, however, of the advance of science during 
these fifty years upon religious belief and the philosophy of 
life has come, not so much from the acceptance of the theory 
of evolution, or the conservation of energy, or other scientific 
deductions, but rather from the development of what is com- 
monly called "the scientific spirit." To-day a thousand men 
are working in the investigations of science where ten were 
working fifty years ago. These men form a far larger pro- 
portion of the whole community of intelligent men than they 
did a half-century ago, and their influence upon the thought 
of the race is greatly increased. They have been trained in 
a generation taught to question all processes, to hold fast 


only to those things that will bear proof, and to seek for the 
truth as the one thing worth having. It is this attitude of 
mind which makes the scientific spirit, and it is the widespread 
dissemination of this spirit which has affected the attitude 
of the great mass of civilized men toward formal theology 
and toward a general philosophy of life. The ability to believe, 
and even the disposition to believe, is one of the oldest acquire- 
ments of the human mind. On the other hand, the capacity 
for estimating evidence in cases of physical causation has 
been a recent acquisition. The last fifty years has added 
enormously to the power of the race in this capacity, and in 
the consequent demand on the part of all men for trustworthy 
evidence, not only in the case of physical phenomena, but in 
all other matters. This spirit is to-day the dominant note of 
the twentieth century. It is a serious spirit and a reverent 
one, but it demands to know, and it will be satisfied with no 
answer which does not squarely face the facts. This intel- 
lectual gain is the most note-worthy fruitage of the last fifty 
years of science and of scientific freedom. 

A direct outcome of this development of scientific spirit 
has been the growth of what has come to be called the higher 
criticism. The higher criticism is a science whose aim is the 
determination of the Uterary history of books and writings, 
including inquiries into the literary form, the unity, the date 
of publication, the authorship, the method of composition, 
the integrity and amount of care shown in any subsequent 
editing, and into other matters, such as may be discovered 
by the use of the internal evidence presented in the writing 
itself. It is termed the higher criticism to distinguish it 
from the related science of lower, or textual, criticism. This 
science is almost wholly a child of the last half-century, and 
in particular is this true so far as Biblical study and criticism 
are concerned. The development of this school of study 
along scientific lines has, in connection with the wide spread 
of the scientific spirit itself, had an enormous effect on the 


attitude of civilized man toward formal theology and toward 
formal religious organizations. 

What the outcome of this intellectual development will be, 
whether it will result in a change of the organizations them- 
selves or the evolution of new organizations for religious teach- 
ing along other lines than those which now exist, no one to-day 
can say. Of this much, however, we may be fairly sure: that 
although the work of the evolutionists and the higher critics 
may have affected formal theology, there is no reason for 
belief that the innate religious spirit of mankind has been 
weakened. True religion is a life, not a belief; and the re- 
ligious life of the twentieth century promises to be as deep 
and genuine, and perhaps more satisfactory, than that of the 
century before. To-day the figure of Jesus Christ looms 
larger to the world than it did fifty years ago, and partly for 
the reason that his life and work are being studied apart 
from formal theology and independently of formal religious 

The general effect of the whole evolutionary development of 
the last fifty years upon the philosophy of life of civilized 
man has been a hopeful one. The old theology pointed man 
to a race history in which he was represented as having fallen 
from a high estate to a low one. The philosophy of evolution 
encourages him to believe that, notwithstanding the limita- 
tions which come from a brute ancestry, his course has been 
upward, and he looks forward to-day hopefully and confidently 
to a like development in the future. 

One who looks over this half-century of development of 
science cannot but feel something of this hopefulness as he 
looks forward to the half-century just begun. So little do 
we know of nature and of nature's laws, so large is their intent 
in comparison, that we may confidently expect the discoveries 
of the next half-century to more than equal those of the half- 
century just passed. The applications of chemistry and of 
physics arc now being pushed by thousands of men better 


trained for research than in any generation which preceded. 
Organized effort in scientific research is begun; transporta- 
tion, already so highly developed, will become still more con- 
venient. Preventive medicine may well be expected to make 
enormous strides in the struggle with the great plagues of 
mankind. The whole scale of human living, so far as comfort 
and convenience are concerned, we may confidently expect 
to improve as rapidly as it has in the fifty years gone by. 
The house of 1950 will be as much superior in comfort and 
convenience to our homes of to-day as these are to those of a 
half-century ago. 

Finally, we may be sure that during the next fifty years, 
as during the past, that question which will most interest 
man is the old one. What is life, and how came it to be? This 
question has not yet been answered by any fruitful hypothesis 
like those of Darwin or Lamarck, which have been such effect- 
ive tools in the hands of investigators. In the aid of the 
solution of this problem all scientific men are working, either 
consciously or unconsciously. Much of what they do seems 
trivial and dry in the eyes of those who are occupied with 
other thoughts. The man who is engaged in accumulating 
a million dollars may not easily understand how a student 
will toil patiently in a laboratory, laboriously gathering to- 
gether minute data, in order that the generalizers of science 
may go a step farther in the solution of the problem. To-day 
the world stands firmly convinced of the universal force of the 
principle of evolution, and on the other hand looks forward 
to the realization of independent life and action in the separate 
cell. Whether in the next half-century science may be able 
to vanquish the difficulty presented by the atom of living 
potential protoplasm, the cell, we cannot say, but we may 
feel sure that great steps toward its solution will be made, 
and that these steps will be taken in the service of the truth 
for the truth's sake, which is the watchword of the science 
of to-day. 

Theodore Roosevelt 

Governors of the Several States and Gentlemen: 

I WELCOME you to this conference at the White House. 
You have come hither at my request so that we may join 
together to consider the question of the conservation and 
use of the great fundamental sources of wealth of this nation. 
So vital is this question that for the first time in our history 
the chief executive officers of the states separately and of 
the states together forming the nation have met to consider it. 

With the Governors come men from each state chosen for 
their special acquaintance with the terms of the problem that 
is before us. Among them are experts in natural resources 
and representatives of national organizations concerned in 
the development and use of these resources; the Senators 
and Representatives in Congress; the Supreme Court, the 
Cabinet and the Inland Waterways Commission have like- 
wise been invited to the conference, which is therefore national 
in a peculiar sense. 

This conference on the conservation of natural resources 
is in effect a meetin,'; of the representatives of all the people 
of the United States called to consider the weightiest problem 
now before the nation, and the occasion for the meeting lies 
in the fact that the natural resources of our country are in 
danger of exhaustion if we permit the old wasteful methods 
of exploiting them longer to continue. 

With the rise of peoples from savagery to civilization, 
and with the consequent growth in the extent and variety 

' Address to the Congress of Governors on the Conservation of National 
Resources, Washington, May 13, 1908. 


of the needs of the average man, there comes a steadily in- 
creasing growth of the amount demanded by this average 
man from the actual resources of the country. Yet, rather 
curiously, at the same time the average man is likely to lose 
his realization of this dependence upon nature. 

Savages, and very primitive peoples generally, concern 
themselves only with superficial natural resources; with 
those which they obtain from the actual surface of the ground. 
As peoples become a little less primitive their industries, 
although in a rude manner, are extended to resources below 
the surface; then, with what we call civilization and the 
extension of knowledge, more resources come into use, in- 
dustries are multiplied and foresight begins to become a 
necessary and prominent factor in life. Crops are cultivated, 
animals are domesticated and metals are mastered. 

Every step of the progress of mankind is marked by the 
discovery and use of natural resources previously unused. 
Without such progressive knowledge and utilization of natural 
resources population could not grow, nor industries multiply, 
nor the hidden wealth of the earth be developed for the benefit 
of mankind. 

From the first beginnings of civilization, on the banks of 
the Nile and the Euphrates, the industrial progress of the 
world has gone on slowly, with occasional setbacks, but on 
the whole steadily, through tens of centuries to the present 
day. But of late the rapidity of the progress has increased 
at such a rate that more space has been actually covered dur- 
ing the century and a quarter occupied by our national life 
than during the preceding six thousand years that take us 
back to the earliest monuments of Egypt, to the earliest cities 
of the Babylonian plain. 

When the founders of this nation met at Independence 
Hall in Philadelphia the conditions of commerce had not 
fundamentally changed from what they were when the Phoeni- 
cian keels first furrowed the lonely waters of the Mediterranean. 


The differences were those of degree, not of kind, and they 
were not in all cases even those of degree. Mining was 
carried on fundamentally as it had been carried on by the 
Pharaohs in the countries adjacent to the Red Sea. 

The wares of the merchants of Boston, of Charleston, like 
the wares of the merchants of Nineveh and Sidon, if they 
went by water were carried by boats propelled by sails or 
oars; if they went by land were carried in wagons drawn by 
beasts of draft or in packs on the backs of beasts of burden. 
The ships that crossed the high seas were better than the 
ships that had once crossed the ^gean, but they were of the 
same type, after all — they were wooden ships propelled by 
sails; and on land the roads were not as good as the roads of 
the Roman Empire, while the service of the posts was prob- 
ably inferior. 

In Washington's time anthracite coal was known only as 
a useless black stone; and the great fields of bituminous coal 
were undiscovered. As steam was unknown, the use of coal 
for power production was undreamed of. Water was practi- 
cally the only source of power, save the labor of men and 
animals; and this power was used only in the most primitive 
fashion. But a few small iron deposits had been found in 
this country, and the use of iron by our countrymen was 
very small. Wood was practically the only fuel, and what 
lumber was sawed was consumed locally, while the forests 
were regarded chiefly as obstructions to settlement and 

Such was the degree of progress to which civilized mankind 
had attained when this nation began its career. It is almost 
impossible for us in this day to realize how little our Revolu- 
tionary ancestors knew of the great store of natural resources 
whose discovery and use have been such vital factors in the 
growth and greatness of this nation, and how little they 
required to take from this store in order to satisfy their needs. 

Since then our knowledge and use of the resources of the 


present territory of the United States have increased a hun- 
dredfold. Indeed, the growth of this nation by leaps and 
bounds makes one of the most striking and important chapters 
in the history of the world. Its growth has been due to the 
rapid development, and, alas! that it should be said, to the 
rapid destruction, of our natural resources. Nature has 
supplied to us in the United States, and still supplies to us, 
more kinds of resources in a more lavish degree than has ever 
been the case at any other time or with any other people. 
Our position in the world has been attained by the extent and 
thoroughness of the control we have achieved over Nature; 
but we are more, and not less, dependent upon what she 
furnishes than at any previous time of history since the days 
of primitive man. 

Yet our fathers, though they knew so little of the resources 
of the country, exercised a wise forethought in reference 
thereto. Washington clearly saw that the perpetuity of the 
states could only be secured by union and that the only 
feasible basis of union was an economic one; in other words, 
that it must be based on the development and use of their 
natural resources. Accordingly, he helped to outline a scheme 
of commercial development, and by his influence an inter- 
state waterways commission was appointed by Virginia and 

It met near where we are now meeting, in Alexandria, 
adjourned to Mount Vernon, and took up the consideration 
of interstate commerce by the only means then available, 
that of water. Further conferences were arranged, first at 
Annapolis and then at Philadelphia. It was in Philadelphia 
that the representatives of all the states met for what was in 
its original conception merely a waterways conference; but 
when they had closed their deliberations the outcome was 
the Constitution which made the states into a nation. 

The Constitution of the United States thus grew in large 
part out of the necessity for united action in the wise use of 


one of our natural resources. The wise use of all of our 
natural resources, which are our national resources as well, 
is the great material question of to-day. I have asked you 
to come together now because the enormous consumption of 
these resources, and the threat of imminent exhaustion of some 
of them, due to reckless and wasteful use, once more call for 
common effort, common action. 

Since the days when the Constitution was adopted, steam 
and electricity have revolutionized the industrial world. 
Nowhere has the revolution been so great as in our own 
country. The discovery and utilization of mineral fuels and 
alloys have given us the lead over all other nations in the 
production of steel. The discovery and utilization of coal 
and iron have given us our railways, and have led to such 
industrial development as has never before been seen. The 
vast wealth of lumber in our forests, the riches of our soils 
and mines, the discovery of gold and mineral oils, combined 
with the efficiency of our transportation, have made the 
conditions of our life unparalleled in comfort and convenience. 

The steadily increasing drain on these natural resources 
has promoted to an extraordinary degree the complexity of 
our industrial and social life. Moreover, this unexampled 
development has had a determining effect upon the character 
and opinions of our people. The demand for efficiency in 
the great task has given us vigor, effectiveness, decision and 
power, and a capacity for achievement which in its own lines 
has never yet been matched. So great and so rapid has been 
our material growth that there has been a tendency to lag 
behind in spiritual and moral growth; but that is not the 
subject upon which I speak to you to-day. 

Disregarding for the moment the question of moral pur- 
pose, it is safe to say that the prosperity of our people depends 
directly on the energy and intelligence with which our natural 
resources are used. It is equally clear that these resources 
are the final basis of national power and perpetuity. Finally, 


it is ominously evident that these resources are in the course 
of rapid exhaustion. 

This nation began with the belief that its landed possessions 
were illimitable and capable of supporting all the people who 
might care to make our country their home; but already the 
limit of unsettled land is in sight, and indeed but little land 
fitted for agriculture now remains unoccupied save what can 
be reclaimed by irrigation and drainage. We began with an 
unapproached heritage of forests; more than half of the 
timber is gone. We began with coal fields more extensive 
than those of any other nation and with iron ores regarded as 
inexhaustible, and many experts now declare that the end of 
both iron and coal is in sight. 

The mere increase in our consumption of coal during 1907 
over 1906 exceeded the total consumption in 1876, the cen- 
tennial year. The enormous stores of mineral oil and gas are 
largely gone. Our natural waterways are not gone, but they 
have been so injured by neglect and by the division of re- 
sponsibility and utter lack of system in dealing with them 
that there is less navigation on them now than there was 
fifty years ago. Finally, we began with soils of unexampled 
fertility and we have so impoverished them by injudicious 
use and by failing to check erosion that their crop-producing 
power is diminishing instead of increasing. In a word, we 
have thoughtlessly, and to a large degree unnecessarily, 
diminished the resources upon which not only our prosperity 
but the prosperity of our children must always depend. 

We have become great because of the lavish use of our 
resources, and we have just reason to be proud of our growth. 
But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen 
when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil and 
the gas are exhausted, when the soils shall have been still 
further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting 
the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation. 
These questions do not relate only to the next century or to 


the next generation. It is time for us now as a nation to exer- 
cise the same reasonable foresight in dealing with our great 
natural resources that would be shown by any prudent man 
in conserving and wisely using the property which contains 
the assurance of well-being for himself and his children. 

The natural resources I have enumerated can be divided 
into two sharply distinguished classes accordingly as they 
are or are not capable of renewal. Mines if used must neces- 
sarily be exhausted. The minerals do not and can not renew 
themselves. Therefore, in dealing with the coal, the oil, the 
gas, the iron, the metals generally, all that we can do is to 
try to see that they are wisely used. The exhaustion is cer- 
tain to come in time. 

The second class of resources consists of those which can 
not only be used in such manner as to leave them undimin- 
ished for our children, but can actually be improved by wise 
use. The soil, the forests, the waterways, come in this cate- 
gory. In dealing with mineral resources, man is able to 
improve on nature only by putting the resources to a bene- 
ficial use, which in the end exhausts them; but in dealing 
with the soil and its products man can improve on nature 
by compelling the resources to renew and even reconstruct 
themselves in such manner as to serve increasingly beneficial 
uses — while the living waters can be so controlled as to 
multiply their benefits. 

Neither the primitive man nor the pioneer was aware of 
any duty to posterity in dealing with the renewable resources. 
When the American settler felled the forests he felt that 
there was plenty of forest left for the sons who came after 
him. When he exhausted the soil of his farm he felt that his 
son could go West and take up another. So it was with his 
immediate successors. When the soil washed from the farmer's 
fields choked the neighboring river he thought only of using 
the railway rather than boats for moving his produce and 


Now all this is changed. On the average the son of the 
farmer of to-day must make his living on his father's farm. 
There is no difficulty in doing this if the father will exercise 
wisdom. No wise use of a farm exhausts its fertility. So 
with the forests. We are on the verge of a timber famine in 
this country, and it is unpardonable for the nation or the 
states to permit any further cutting of our timber save in 
accordance with a system which will provide that the next 
generation shall see the timber increased instead of diminished. 
Moreover, we can add enormous tracts of the most valuable 
possible agricultural land to the national domain by irrigation 
in the arid and semi-arid regions, and by drainage of great 
tracts of swamp land in the humid regions. We can enor- 
mously increase our transportation facilities by the canaliza- 
tion of our rivers so as to complete a great system of waterways 
on the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts and in the Mississippi 
Valley, from the Great Plains to the Alleghenies and from 
the northern lakes to the mouth of the mighty Father of 
Waters. But all these various uses of our natural resources 
are so closely connected that they should be co-ordinated, 
and should be treated as part of one coherent plan and not in 
haphazard and piecemeal fashion. 

It is largely because of this that I appointed the Waterways 
Commission last year, and that I have sought to perpetuate 
its work. I wish to take this opportunity to express in 
heartiest fashion my acknowledgment to all the members of 
the commission. At great personal sacrifice of time and 
effort they have rendered a service to the public for which 
we cannot be too grateful. Especial credit is due to the 
initiative, the energy, the devotion to duty and the far- 
sightedness of Gifford Pinchot, to whom we owe so much of 
the progress we have already made in handling this matter of 
the coordination and conservation of natural resources. If 
it had not been for him this convention neither would nor 
could have been called. 


We are coming to recognize as never before the right of 
the nation to guard its own future in the essential matter of 
natural resources. In the past we have admitted the right 
of the individual to injure the future of the Republic for his 
own present profit. The time has come for a change. As a 
people we have the right and the duty, second to none other 
but the right and duty of obeying the moral law, of requiring 
and doing justice, to protect ourselves and our children against 
the wasteful development of our natural resources, whether 
that waste is caused by the actual destruction of such 
resources or by making them impossible of development 

Any right-thinking father earnestly desires and strives to 
leave his son both an untarnished name and a reasonable 
equipment for the struggle of life. So this nation as a whole 
should earnestly desire and strive to leave to the next genera- 
tion the national honor unstained and the national resources 
unexhausted. There are signs that both the nation and the 
states are waking to a realization of this great truth. On 
March 10, 1908, the Supreme Court of Maine rendered an 
exceedingly important judicial decision. This opinion was 
rendered in response to questions as to the right of the Legis- 
lature to restrict the cutting of trees on private land for the 
prevention of drouths and floods, the preservation of the 
natural water supply and the prevention of the erosion of such 
lands and the consequent filling up of rivers, ponds and lakes. 
The forests and water power of Maine constitute the larger 
part of her wealth and form the basis of her industrial life, 
and the question submitted by the Maine Senate to the 
Supreme Court and the answer of the Supreme Court alike 
bear testimony to the wisdom of the people of Maine and 
clearly define a policy of conservation of natural resources 
the adoption of which is of vital importance not merely to 
Maine but to the whole country. 

Such a policy will preserve soil, forests, water power as a 


heritage for the children and the children's children of the 
men and women of this generation; for any enactment that 
provides for the wise utilization of the forests, whether in 
public or private ownership, and for the conservation of the 
water resources of the country must necessarily be legislation 
that will promote both private and public welfare; for flood 
prevention, water power development, preservation of the 
soil and improvement of navigable rivers are all promoted 
by such a policy of forest conservation. 

The opinion of the Maine Supreme bench sets forth un- 
equivocally the principle that the property rights of the 
individual are subordinate to the rights of the community, 
and especially that the waste of wild timber land derived 
originally from the state, involving as it would the impover- 
ishment of the state and its people and thereby defeating one 
great purpose of government, may properly be prevented 
by state restrictions. 

The court says that there are two reasons why the right 
of the public to control and limit the use of private prop- 
erty is peculiarly appHcable to property in land: "First, 
such property is not the result of productive labor, but is 
derived solely from the state itself, the original owner; second, 
the amount of land being incapable of increase, if the owners 
of large tracts can waste them at will without state restric- 
tions, the state and its people may be helplessly impoverished 
and one great purpose of government defeated. . . . We do 
not think the proposed legislation would operate to 'take' 
private property within the inhibition of the Constitution. 
While it might restrict the owner of wild and uncultivated 
lands in his use of them, might delay his taking some of the 
product, might delay his anticipated profits and even thereby 
might cause him some loss of profit, it would nevertheless 
leave him his lands, their product and increase, untouched, 
and without diminution of title, estate or quantity. He would 
still have large measure of control and large opportunity to 


realize values. He might suffer delay — but not deprivation. 
. . . The proposed legislation . . . would be within the 
legislative power and would not operate as a taking of private 
property for which compensation must be made." 

The Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey has adopted 
a similar view, which has recently been sustained by the 
Supreme Court of the United States. In delivering the 
opinion of the court on April 6, 1908, Mr. Justice Holmes 
said: "The state as quasi-sovereign and representative of 
the interests of the public has a standing in court to protect 
the atmosphere, the water and the forests within its territory, 
irrespective of the assent or dissent of the private owners of 
the land most immediately concerned. ... It appears to us 
that few public interests are more obvious, indisputable and 
independent of particular theory than the interest of the 
public of a state to maintain the rivers that are wholly within 
it substantially undiminished, except by such drafts upon 
them as the guardian of the public welfare may permit for 
the purpose of turning them to a more perfect use. This 
public interest is omnipresent wherever there is a state, and 
grows more pressing as population grows. . . . We are of 
opinion, further, that the constitutional power of the state 
to insist that its natural advantages shall remain unimpaired 
by its citizens is not dependent upon any nice estimate of the 
extent of present use or speculation as to future needs. The 
legal conception of the necessary is likely to be confined to 
somewhat rudimentary wants, and there are benefits from a 
great river that might escape a lawyer's view. But the state 
is not required to submit even to an aesthetic analysis. Any 
analysis may be inadequate. It finds itself in possession of 
what all admit to be a great public good, and what it has it 
may keep and give no one a reason for its will." 

These decisions reach the root of the idea of conservation 
of our resources in the interests of our people. 

Finally, let us remember that the conservation of our 


natural resources, though the gravest problem of to-day, is 
yet but part of another and greater problem to which this 
nation is not yet awake, but to which it will awake in time, 
and with which it must hereafter grapple if it is to live — the 
problem of national efficiency, the patriotic duty of insuring 
the safety and continuance of the nation. When the people 
of the United States consciously undertake to raise them- 
selves as citizens, and the nation and the states in their several 
spheres, to the highest pitch of excellence in private, state 
and national life, and to do this because it is the first of all 
the duties of true patriotism, then and not till then the future 
of this nation in quality and in time will be assured. 


Paul Elmer More 

In a world that is governed by phrases we cannot too often 
recur to the familiar saying of Hobbes, that "words are wise 
men's counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are 
the money of fools " ; and so to-day, when the real achievements 
of science have thrown a kind of halo about the word and 
made it in the general mind synonymous with truth, the first 
duty of any one who would think honestly is to reach a clear 
definition of what he means when he utters the sanctified 
syllables. In this particular case the duty and difficulty are 
the greater because the word conveys three quite different 
meanings which have correspondingly different values. Posi- 
tive science is one thing, but hypothetical science is another 
thing, and philosophical science is still another; yet on the 
popular tongue, nay, even in the writings of those who pretend 
to extreme precision, these distinctions are often forgotten, 
to the utter confusion of ideas. 

By positive science I mean the observation and classifica- 
tion of facts and the discovery of those constant sequences in 
phenomena which can be expressed in mathematical formulae 
or in the generalized language of law; I mean that procedure 
which Huxley had in mind when he said that science is "noth- 
ing but trained and organized common sense, differing from 
the latter only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit: 
and its methods differ from those of common sense only so 
far as the guardsman's cut and thrust differ from the manner 
in which a savage wields his club." Now for such a proce- 
dure no one can feel anything but the highest respect — 

1 From The Drift of Romanticism ; copyright. Reprinted by permis- 
sion of the author and of Houghton MifHin Company. 


respect which in the lay mind may well mount to admiration 
and even to awe. He has but a poor imagination who cannot 
be stirred to wonder before the triumphs over material forces 
gained by methods of which he can confess only humble 
ignorance; and beyond these visible achievements lies a 
whole region of intellectual activity open to the man of science, 
but closed and forever foreign to the investigator in other 
kinds of ideas. I am bound to insist on the fact that I have 
no foolish desire to belittle the honors of science in its practi- 
cal applications, and that I can in a way estimate its rewards 
as an abstract study, however far the full fruition of the 
scientific life may lie beyond my reach. 

Positive science, thus defined as that trained observation 
which brings the vision of order out of disorder, system out 
of chaos, law out of chance, might seem splendid enough in 
theory and useful enough in practice to satisfy the most 
exorbitant ambition. But it must be remembered that a 
law of science, however wide its scope, does not go beyond a 
statement of the relation of observed facts and tells us not 
a word of what lies behind this relationship or of the cause 
of these facts. Now the mind of man is so constituted that 
this ignorance of causes is to it a constant source of irritation ; 
we are almost resistlessly tempted to pass beyond the mere 
statement of law to erecting a theory of the reality that 
underlies the law. Such a theory is an hypothesis, and such 
activity of the mind is hypothetical science as distinguished 
from positive science. But we must distinguish further. 
The word hypothesis is used, by the man of science as well as 
by the layman, in two quite different senses. On the one 
hand, it may mean the attempt to express in language bor- 
rowed from our sensuous experience the nature of a cause or 
reality which transcends such experience. Thus the luminif- 
erous ether is properly an hypothesis: by its very definition it 
transcends the reach of our perceptive faculties; we cannot 
see it, or feel it in any way; yet it is^ or was, assumed to 


exist as the cause of known phenomena and its properties 
were given in terms of density, elasticity, etc., which are 
appropriate to material things which we can see and feel. 
On the other hand, the word hypothesis is often taken to 
signify merely a scientific law which belongs to the realm of 
positive science, but which is still to be established. Confu- 
sion would be avoided if we employed the term scientific 
conjecture for this second, and proper, procedure, and con- 
fined the use of the term hypothesis to the former, and as I 
think improper, procedure. To make clear these distinctions 
let me give an illustration or two. The formula of gravitation 
merely states the regularity of a certain group of known 
phenomena from the motion of a falling apple to the motion 
of the planets about the sun. When this formula first dawned 
on the mind of Newton, it was a scientific conjecture; when 
it was tested and proved to conform to facts, it became an 
accepted scientific law. Both conjecture and accepted law 
are strictly v/ithin the field of positive science. But if New- 
ton, not content with generalizing the phenomena of gravita- 
tion in the form of a law, had undertaken to theorize on the 
absolute nature of the attraction which caused the phenomena 
of gravitation,^ he would have passed from the sphere of 
positive science to that of hypothetical science. So when 
Darwin, by systematizing the vast body of observations in 
biology and geology, showed that plants and animals develop 
in time and with the changes of the earth from the simplest 
forms of animate existence to the most complex forms now 
seen, and thus gave precision to the law of evolution, he was 
working in the field of positive science: he changed what 
had been a conjectured law to a generally accepted law. 
But when he went a step further and undertook to explain 
the cause of this evolution by the theory of natural selection 
or the survival of the fit, he passed from positive to hypo- 
thetical science. 

1 On this point comi)are Berkeley, Siris, §§ 245-250. 


In my essay on Newman I found it convenient to classify 
the minds of men figuratively in an inner and an outer group. 
In the outer group I placed the two extremes of the mystic 
and the sceptic, and in the inner group the non-mystical 
religious mind and the non-sceptical scientific mind. These 
two classes of the inner group differ in their field of interest, 
the one being concerned with the observation of spiritual 
states, the other with the observation of material phenomena; 
but they agree in so far as the former passes from the facts 
of his spiritual consciousness to the belief in certain causes 
conceived as mythological beings and known by revelation, 
while the latter passes from the facts of his material observa- 
tions to the belief in certain causes conceived as hypotheses 
and known by inference. Hypotheses, in other words, are 
merely the mythology, the deus ex machina, of science, and 
they are eradicated from the scientific mind only by the 
severest discipline of scepticism, just as mythology is eradi- 
cated from the religious mind by genuine mysticism. I am 
aware of the danger of inculcating such an eradication. As 
for most men to take away the belief in their gods as known 
realities would be to put an end to their religion, so, it may 
be objected, to take away these hypotheses would be to en- 
danger the very foundations of science. Yet, even if scientific 
hypotheses, in consideration of human frailty, may have 
their use just as mythologies have their use, I still protest 
that they are not necessary to scientific discovery, as is proved 
by the great example of Newton. I believe, though my 
temerity may only be equalled by my ignorance, that they 
have oftener introduced confusion into pure science than 
they have aided in the discovery of new laws or in the broaden- 
ing of known laws; and I am confirmed in this belief by the 
present state of biology. Darwin's law of evolution has re- 
mained virtually unshaken and has, I suppose, been the 
instigation of innumerable discoveries; but, so far as I may 
judge from my limited reading in the subject, Darwin's 


hypothesis of natural selection and the survival of the fit has 
on the one hand been seriously and widely questioned as a 
cause sufficient to account for evolution, and on the other 
hand has led to speculation to find a substitute for it which 
in wildness of theorizing and in audacity of credulousness 
can only be likened to the intricacies of religious scholasticism. 
The condemnation of hypothetical science as dangerous to 
integrity of mind is no new thing. Even in the seventeenth 
century Joseph Glanvill saw how surely the enthusiasm en- 
gendered by the foundation of the Royal Society would lead 
to vain hypotheses. In his Scepsis Scientifica he sets forth 
their nature and forestalls Hume's destructive analysis of 
our notion of causality, with strong warning that the man of 
science should not "build the Castle of his intellectual security, 
in the Air of Opinions. . . . Opinions [he adds, meaning 
hypotheses] are the Rattles of immature intellects. . . . 
Dogmatizing is the great disturber both of our selves and the 
world without us." In the next age Bolingbroke, in his 
Essays Addressed to Mr. Pope, argued the question of the 
limits of human knowledge and the fallacies of hypothetical 
theorizing with a clearness and penetration which would 
have made that work one of the bulwarks of English philoso- 
phy, were it not for my Lord's disdain of the rules of com- 
position and the tediousness of his endless repetitions, and 
were it not above all for his own inconsistency in urging the 
most colossal of all hypotheses, that of universal optimism. 
In particular he takes up, more than once, the common plea 
that hypotheses are useful, whether true or not. 

It will be urged, perhaps, as decisive in favor of hypotheses [he observes], 
that they may be of service, and can be of no disservice to us, in our pur- 
suit of knowledge. An hypothesis founded on mere arbitrary assumptions 
will be a true hypothesis, and therefore of service to philosophy, if it is con- 
firmed by many observations afterwards, and if no one phenomenon stand 
in opposition to it. An hypothesis that appears inconsistent with the 
phenomena will be soon demonstrated false, and as soon rejected. 


In reply he shows by example how hypotheses have kept 
men from the right path of investigation and how they have 
been maintained (what rich and even ridiculous examples he 
might have produced from our age) after they have been 
proved inconsistent with facts and common sense. "The 
fautors of hypotheses would have us believe that even the 
detection of their falsehood gives occasion to our improvement 
in knowledge. But the road to truth does not lie through 
the precincts of error." Now, it is true that neither Glanvill 
nor Bolingbroke distinguished between the legitimate use of 
scientific conjecture and the illegitimate use of hypotheses, 
but they had chiefly in mind, I think, not the mere formulation 
of law but the attempt to penetrate into ultimate causes. 

The chief fault of hypotheses, however, lies not in the 
entanglement of pure science among perilous ways and in 
the lifting up of the scientific imagination to idolatrous wor- 
ship, as it were, of the chimccra bombinans in vacuo, but in the 
almost irresistible tendency of the human mind to glide from 
hypothetical science into what I have called philosophical 
science, meaning thereby the endeavor to formulate a philoso- 
phy of life out of scientific law and hypothesis. An hypothesis 
may be proclaimed by the man of science as a purely sub- 
jective formula for a group of phenomena, and as a confessedly 
temporary expedient for advancing a little further in the 
process of bringing our observations under the regularity of 
law; the man of science may pretend verbally to a purely 
sceptical attitude towards his transcendental definitions, but 
in practice this scepticism almost invariably gives way to a 
feeling that the formula for causes is as real objectively as the 
law of phenomena which it undertakes to explain, and to a 
kind of supercilious intolerance for those who maintain the 
sceptical attitude practically as well as verbally, or for those 
who build their faith on hypotheses of another sort than his 
own. Hence the hostility that has constantly existed be- 
tween those who base their philosophy of life on intuition and 


the humanities and those who base it upon scientific law and 
hypothesis. At the very beginning of the modern scientific 
movement this antagonism made itself felt, and, as religion 
had then the stronger position in society, took the form of 
apologetics on the part of science. In what may be called 
the authorized History of the Royal Society, Bishop Sprat 
undertook to allay the suspicions that had immediately arisen 
against the chartered organization of experimental science. 
With specious sophistry he argued that the "new philosophy" 
would never encroach on the established system of education 
in the humanities. He admitted the natural alliance between 
science and industry against the feudal form of government, 
but asserted that science in this was only a handmaid of the 

Nor ought our Gentry [he declares] to be averse from the promoting of 
Trade, out of any little Jealousy, that thereby they shall debase themselves, 
and corrupt their Blood: For they are to know, that Trafick and Commerce 
have given Mankind a higher Degree than any Title of Nobility, even 
that of Civility and Humanity itself. And at this time especially above 
all others, they have no reason to despise Trade as below them, when it has 
so great an influence on the very Government of the World. In former Ages 
indeed this was not so remarkable. 

Primarily, however, Sprat, as a prelate in good standing, 
contended that religion stood in no danger from the deductions 
of the new philosophy: 

I do here, in the beginning, most sincerely declare, that if this Design 
[of the Royal Society] should in the least diminish the Reverence, that is 
due to the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, it were so far from deserving Protec- 
tion, that it ought to be abhorr'd by all the Politic and Prudent; as well 
as by the devout Part of Christendom. . . . With these Apprehensions 
I come to examine the Objections, which I am now to satisfy: and having 
calmly compar'd the Arguments of some devout Men against Knowledge, 
and chiefly that of Experiments; I must pronounce them both, to be alto- 
gether inoffensive. I did before affirm, that the Royal Society is abundantly 
cautious, not to intermeddle in Spiritual Things. ... So true is that Say- 
ing of my Lord Bacon, That by a little Knowledge of Nature Men become 
Atheists; but a great deal returns them back again to a sound and religious 


Mind. In brief, if we rightly apprehend the Matter, it will be found that 
it is not only Sottishness, but Prophaneness, for Men to cry out against the 
understanding of Nature; for that being nothing else but the Instrument 
of God, whereby he gives Being and Action to Things: the Knowledge of 
it deserves so little to be esteem'd impious, that it ought rather to be reckon'd 
as Divine. 

It may seem a little illogical in the good Bishop first to 
apologize for science as having no finger in Spiritual Things 
and then to exalt it as a bulwark against atheism, but such an 
inconsistency is very human, and it is an example of the 
almost irresistible tendency of the mind to use its own specific 
form of knowledge as a criterion of all knowledge. The 
vacillation between apology and presumption introduced by 
the historian of the Royal Society has persisted to this day, 
and in essay after essay of Huxley's you will find the modern 
president of the Society maintaining on one page the self- 
limitations of positive science and on another page passing 
from hypothesis to a dogmatic philosophy, here rebuking 
those who confound the domains of scientific and spiritual 
law and there proclaiming science as a support of what he 
deems true religion. Much that he wrote was directed to 
temporary questions, and to open his volumes may seem even 
now to breathe the dust of battles fought long ago and rendered 
meaningless by the advance of time; but in reality, though 
their outer form may change, the disputes in which he engaged 
have not yet been settled as he so fondly believed they were, 
and can never be settled unless a sullen apathy be taken for 

Certainly Huxley, looking back from his quiet retirement 
at Eastbourne over his long and belligerent career, might be 
justified in thinking that victory was altogether the reward of 
his laborious life. He had had no other regular instruction 
than what he received for a couple of years in the semi-public 
school at Ealing of which his father was assistant master, and 
what he gained from lectures in Sydenham College, London, 
and at Charing Cross Hospital. In 1846, at the age of twenty- 



one, he was appointed surgeon to H.M.S. Rattlesnake which 
was bound for a long surveying cruise in the Torres Straits. 
After four years in the Far East he returned to England, with 
a large experience in zoological and ethnological work, and 
with no immediate prospects of advancement. His first 
experience in London was embittered by governmental delays 
and neglect, but in 185 1 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal 
Society, receiving the Gold Medal the next year, and in 1854 
he was appointed professor of natural history at the School 
of Mines. After that honors and offers came to him in 
rapid succession. He could not be tempted to leave London, 
where he felt himself at the centre of things, but in 1872 he 
accepted the position of Lord Rector of Aberdeen University, 
since this office afforded him an opportunity of exerting an 
influence on national education without giving up his resi- 
dence in the capital. In 1883 he was chosen president of the 
Royal Society, and in 1892, in lieu of a title which he would 
not accept, he was raised to the Privy Council. It is not 
insignificant of his position in England that, on the occasion 
of kissing hands with the other Councillors at Osborne, when 
he snatched an opportunity for obtaining a close view of the 
Queen, he found Her Majesty's eyes fixed upon himself with 
the same inquisitiveness. 

But the most sensible triumphs were no doubt those that 
came to him in public as the recognized spokesman of the 
new philosophy, and of these, two of a personal sort, gained 
at Oxford, the very citadel of the forces leagued against him, 
must have been peculiarly sweet. Every one knows of his 
famous tilt with Wilberforce at the meeting of the British 
Association at Oxford in i860. It was just after the publica- 
tion of The Origin of Species, and the Bishop of Oxford thought 
it a proper occasion to demolish the rising heresy with argu- 
ment and ridicule. The lecture-room was crowded, the 
clergy being massed in the centre of the audience, and the 
very windows being packed with ladies who encouraged 


the champion of religion with their fluttering handkerchiefs. 
The Bishop spoke for an hour, assuring his hearers that there 
was nothing in the idea of evolution, and then, turning "with 
a smiling insolence" to Huxley who was sitting on the plat- 
form, "begged to know, was it through his grandfather or his 
grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey." 
At this Huxley is said to have struck his hand upon his knee, 
and to have exclaimed to his neighbor, "The Lord hath 
delivered him into mine hands." Then, as the event was 
described in Alacmillan^s Magazine, he "slowly and deliber- 
ately arose. A slight, tall figure, stern and pale, very quiet 
and very grave, he stood before us and spoke those tremendous 
words — words which no one seems sure of now, nor, I think, 
could remember just after they were spoken, for their meaning 
took away our breath, though it left us in no doubt as to 
what it was." According to Huxley's son and biographer 
the most accurate report of the concluding words is in a letter 
of John Richard Green: 

I asserted — and I repeat — that a man has no reason to be ashamed 
of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I 
should feel shame in recalling it would rather be a man — a man of restless 
and versatile intellect — who, not content with an equivocal success in 
his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he 
has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and 
distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent 
digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice. 

Again, at another meeting of the British Association at 
Oxford, in 1894, Huxley appeared as a champion of Dar- 
winism against the insinuations of Lord Salisbury, who, in 
his speech as president, spoke with delicate irony "of the 
'comforting word, evolution,' and, passing to the Weisman- 
nian controversy, implied that the diametrically opposed 
views so frequently expressed nowadays threw the whole 
process of evolution into doubt." ^ But things were not 

^ Professor H. F. Osborn in Transactions of the N. Y. Acad. Sci., vol. xv. 


what they had been. The ready and vociferous applause 
was for the prophet of Darwinism, and Huxley, instead of 
repelling sarcasm with invective, now conscious of his trium- 
phant position and of the courtesy due to one who as Prime 
Minister had only two years before honored him with the 
Privy Councillorship, was compelled to veil "an unmistak- 
able and vigorous protest in the most gracious and dignified 
speech of thanks." It was his last public appearance on any 
important occasion, a proper and almost majestic conclusion 
to his long warfare. He died on June 29 of the following 
year, having just completed his threescore and ten. By his 
direction three lines from a poem by his wife were inscribed 
on his tomb-stone: 

Be not afraid, ye waiting hearts that weep; 
For still He giveth His beloved sleep, 
And if an endless sleep He wills, so best. 

Better, if he could have known them, would have been the 
words spoken only the other day by the Vice-Chancellor of 
Cambridge at the great dinner given at the university on the 
occasion of Darwin's centenary: 

I claim as a theologian — and I see representatives of law, music, and 
letters, and many other sciences and arts present — that only one spirit 
animates us all, and I should beg that we might be included in the term 

Now to Huxley more than to any other one man in England 
is due this victory, seeming to some so complete and final; 
he more than any other one man stood in the nineteenth 
century for the triple power of positive and hypothetical 
science and of philosophical science in the form of naturalism. 
Of his work in positive science I am incompetent to speak, 
but I can at least say that it was important enough to give 
him honourable standing among investigators and to clothe 
his popular utterances with authority. His great opportunity 
came with the publication of The Origin of Species when he 


was thirty-four years old, and for the remaining thirty-six 
years of his life he was the valiant and aggressive champion 
of evolution and the Darwinian hypothesis against all comers, 
whether they were mighty men of the Church or of Parlia- 
ment. He was, so to speak, the Plato to the Socrates of the 
new philosophy, applying its premises to every department 
of life. His power in this field was conditioned by his knowl- 
edge of science and of philosophy, but it depended also on his 
consummate skill in the use of language. To read his essays, 
which deal so magnificently with old disputes and forgotten 
animosities, is to feel — at least a literary man may be par- 
doned for so feeling — that here is one of the cunning artif- 
icers lost to letters, an essayist who, if he had devoted his 
faculties to the more permanent aspect of truth, might have 
taken a place among the great masters of literature. Cer- 
tainly in sarcasm and irony he had no superior, unless it was 
Matthew Arnold, whom, indeed, he in many superficial respects 
resembles. He had, no doubt, easy material in the bishops, 
and the epithet episcopophagous, which he pleasantly coined 
for himself, tells the story of that contest in a word. Better 
material yet was afforded by Gladstone when, rushing in 
where bishops feared to tread, he undertook to uphold the 
cosmogony of Genesis as scientifically correct. Whatever 
one's attitude towards philosophical science may be, one can 
acknowledge a feeling of unreserved glee in seeing that flabby, 
pretentious intellect pricked and slashed in such masterly 
fashion. Satire like the following is never old: 

In particular, the remarkable disquisition which covers pages ii to 14 
of Mr. Gladstone's last contribution [to the Nineteenth Century, January, 
18863 has greatly exercised my mind. Socrates is reported to have said of 
the works of Heraclitus that he who attempted to comprehend them should 
be a "Delian swimmer," but that, for his part, what he could understand 
was so good that he was disposed to believe in the excellence of that which 
he found unintelligible. In endeavouring to make myself master of Mr. 
Gladstone's meaning in these pages, I have often been overcome by a feel- 
ing analogous to that of Socrates, but not quite the same. That which I do 


understand has appeared to me so very much the reverse of good, that I 
have sometimes permitted myself to doubt the value of that which I do 
not understand. 

That is the true joy of battle, that keeps the wrangling of 
ancient days forever young: 

Full of the god that urged their burning breast, 
The heroes thus their mutual warmth express'd . 

In the case of Huxley himself there is no question of what 
we understand and what we do not understand. All in his 
writing is of that peculiarly lucid quality which is an argu- 
ment in itself, for we are prone to accept the canon that what 
is clear must be true. Yet there is a distinction. Though, 
so far as regards the end immediately in view, Huxley is 
always a master of logical precision, one discovers, in reading 
him largely, that his ends are not always the same, and that 
in the total efifect of his works there lies concealed an insoluble 
ambiguity. So it is that, though in one sense his strongest 
intellectual trait was, as his son says, "an uncompromising 
passion for truth," yet in the sum of his thinking he was one 
of the master sophists of the age. And the tracks of his 
sophistry lead straight to that confusion of positive science 
and hypothetical science and philosophical science which is, 
perhaps, the most characteristic mark of the last century. 

Agnosticism, according to Huxley's own definition of the 
word which he invented to sum up his intellectual procedure, 
is neither scepticism nor dogmatism; it "is not properly 
described as a 'negative' creed, nor indeed as a creed of any 
kind, except in so far as it expresses absolute faith in the 
validity of a principle, which is as much ethical as intellectual, 
. . . that it is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of 
the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce 
evidence which logically justifies that certainty." Agnosti- 
cism, then, is merely the honest adherence to evidence. Now 
no state of mind could be more exemplary than that of the 
agnostic when so defined. It has only one weakness, that, 


if we could accept their own opinion, it includes all men, 
and so defines nothing. Huxley, indeed, contrasts the proce- 
dure of the agnostic with theology, and declares that "agnos- 
ticism can be said to be a stage in its evolution, only as death 
may be said to be the final stage in the evolution of life." 
Really, the whole argument, for one so keen as Huxley, is 
rather naive. Does he suppose that Cardinal Newman, for 
instance, would admit that his theological hypothesis was 
any less supported by evidence than the evolutionary hy- 
pothesis? As a matter of fact Newman might retort that he 
had with him the evidence of ages, whereas Huxley was 
depending at bottom on the evidence of only a few decades 
of time. The difference between them does not lie in their 
loyalty or disloyalty to evidence per se, but in the kind of 
evidence from which they start; nor has Huxley, so far as I 
know, ever shown, or even seriously tried to show, that the 
inner evidence which gives us the sense of moral liberty and 
responsibility, of sin and holiness, is less logically trust- 
worthy than the evidence of the eye and the ear. 

That is the weakness of agnosticism as defined by its in- 
ventor, but it has a compensating advantage. As actually 
used by him it is at once a sword of offense and a buckler of 
safety; permitting the most truculent dogmatism when the 
errors of an enemy are to be exposed and the most elusive 
scepticism when the enemy charges in return. Indeed, an 
agnostic might briefly and not unfairly be defined as a dog- 
matist in attack and a sceptic in defense, which is but another 
way of calling him a sophist. With what dexterity Huxley 
wielded this double weapon may be seen in his use of the 
great question of scientific law. More than once {e.g., Science 
and Christian Tradition, p. 134), when certain deductions from 
the rigid application of law are brought home to him, he 
takes refuge in a sceptical limitation of law to the mere formu- 
lation of objective experience in a world which is ultimately 
moved by forces beyond the reach of man's perceptive faculties. 


And against the preacher who rashly invades the scientific 
field he can declare that "the habitual use of the word 'law,' 
in the sense of an active thing, is almost a mark of pseudo- 
science; it characterizes the writings of those who have appro- 
priated the forms of science without knowing anything of its 
substance." Yet in the same essay, when he opens the 
attack upon those who would retreat into a region beyond 
scientific law, he avows boldly "the fundamental axiom of 
scientific thought," "that there is not, never has been, and 
never will be, any disorder in nature. The admission of the 
occurrence of any event which was not the logical consequence 
of the immediately antecedent events, according to these 
definite, ascertained, or unascertained rules which we call 
the 'laws of nature,' would be an act of self-destruction on 
the part of science." And elsewhere: "We ignore, even as a 
possibility, the notion of any interference with the order of 
Nature." Now when we consider that to regard the act of 
the will which originates the motion of raising the arm as a 
force in any way contrary to the law of gravitation, is in 
Huxley's mind an unscientific absurdity {Pseudo-Scientific 
Realism, passim), that, in other words, life and the world 
are to him a pure mechanism, and when we consider further 
that he identifies the claims of science with the desire of 
truth {Universities: Actual and Ideal, passim), it really should 
not have seemed to him so grave an error to use the word 
law for that force which produces the absolute uniformity 
defined by law. It is Huxley himself in these moments of 
attack who virtually, if not literally, takes law "in the sense 
of an active thing," which in his moments of defense he so 
vigorously repudiates. 

Inevitably this ambiguity of attitude becomes even more 
perplexed when he applies the notion of scientific law to the 
deeper problems of life. In one place, for instance, he asserts 
that "there lies in the nature of things a reason for every 
moral law, as cogent and as well defined as that which under- 


lies every physical law." But in another place he takes 
what, from his principles, must be regarded as the opposite 
point of view: "The notion that the doctrine of evolution can 
furnish a foundation for morals seems to me to be an illusion"; 
and again he states roundly that "cosmic nature is no school 
of virtue, but the headquarters of the enemy of ethical na- 
ture." This ambiguity of his position involves not only 
morals but the fundamental question of spirituality and 
materialism. In his freer moments of attack he does not 
hesitate to fling out the most relentless dogmas of materialism. 
The actuality of the spiritual world, he declares in one of his 
prefaces, lies entirely within the province of science — that 
is to say, is amenable to the undeviating operation of me- 
chanical law; "the materials of consciousness are products 
of cerebral activity," and are "the result of molecular forces"; 
"we are," by an extension of the Cartesian theory of the 
lower animals, "conscious automata, . . . parts of the great 
series of causes and effects which, in unbroken continuity, 
composes that which is, and has been, and shall be — the 
sum of existence." That should seem to be the most explicit 
materialism and necessitarianism; yet hear the same man 
on the other side! "For my part, I utterly repudiate and 
anathematize the intruder [this same necessitarianism]. 
Fact I know; and Law I know; but what is Necessity, save 
an empty shadow of my own mind's throwing?" In other 
words, when your enemy talks loosely of miracles and spiritual 
experiences and supernatural freedom, it is easy to crush him 
with this bludgeon of an unbroken law of mechanical cause 
and effect; but when your enemy turns on you and begins 
to draw disagreeable conclusions from this fatal sequence, 
it is the part of the skilful fencer to denounce as an empty 
shadow any connection between such a law and necessity! 
Further than that, Huxley when hard pressed, instead of 
abiding manfully by his premises, was ready to sink into 
that last sophistry of the scientific mind and deny that there 


is any distinction between the materialistic and the spiritual- 
istic conception of life. "In itself," he says, "it is of little 
moment whether we express the phjenomena of matter in 
terms of spirit; or the phenomena of spirit in terms of matter." 
This view he buttresses {Science and Morals) by calmly 
assuming that St. Augustine and Calvin were at one with 
him in holding to a fatal determination. Is it necessary to 
say that St. Augustine and Calvin — whether rightly or 
wrongly is here not the question — believed in a spiritual power 
apart from and undetermined by natural law? This power 
might have its own determinism, but, relatively to natural 
law, it was spontaneous and incalculable. The difference 
to philosophy and conduct between holding a spiritual 
fatalism and holding a mechanical determinism marks the 
distance between religion and science — or, at least, between 
the positions of the English bishops and of Huxley. If there 
is no distinction here, why then all the pother, and what 
meaning is there in Huxley's cheerful assumption that science 
was to be the end of the Church and that men of science 
were to supplant the bishops? 

Now these inconsistencies in Huxley are not the result of a 
progressive change in his views, nor are they infrequent or 
superficial. They lie at the very foundation of the system 
of which he was the most distinguished spokesman, and they 
are more conspicuous in him than in others merely because 
at any given moment his style is so eminently transparent. 
They spring, indeed, from a false extension of the procedure 
of science into a philosophy of naturalism. The fact is 
simply this: When the matter is squarely faced there can be 
no science, properly speaking, except in so far as the world 
appears to us a strictly closed mechanical system, a "block- 
universe" as William James called it, which contains its end 
in its beginning and displays the whole in every part. As it 
has been picturesquely expressed: "Were a single dust-atom 
destroyed, the universe would collapse." Absolute regularity 


is the sme qua non of scientific law, and the moment any 
element of incalculable spontaneity is admitted into the 
system, that moment the possibility of scientific law is so 
far excluded: there is no law of the individual or the unpre- 
dictable; there is no science of the soul unless man, as Taine 
says, is no more than "a very simple mechanism which analysis 
can take to pieces like clockwork." This does not mean that 
any given law is final and embraces the whole content of 
phenomena; but it does mean that further knowledge, while 
it may modify a law or supplant one law by another, still 
leaves us within the realm of absolute mechanical regularity. 
Such a closed system is properly called nature; it was clearly 
conceived and given to philosophy by the great naturalists of 
the seventeenth century. 

Nature, thus conceived as a block-system, is the proper 
field of positive science, and leads to no embarrassment so 
long as we do not attempt anything more than the classifi- 
cation of physical phenomena under laws. But there is 
a tendency in the human mind which draws it almost irre- 
sistibly to pass from the formulation of laws to the definition 
of the force or cause underlying them. This is hypothetical 
science. Such a procedure already involves a certain violence 
to scientific evidence, but it does not stop here. Suppose 
there exists a body of testimony, accumulated through thou- 
sands of years, to the effect that a whole world of our inner 
life lies outside of that block-universe of mechanical deter- 
minism: what then is the man of hypothetical science to do? 
He may deny the validity of any evidence apart from that 
which leads to scientific law, and having erected this law of 
mechanical regularity into an active cause governing and 
controlling the world, he may set it in opposition to the hy- 
pothesis of a personal God which Christians have created 
from the evidence of their inner experience. He may be 
onesided, but he will be consistent. In this sense, and with 
a consequence different from what he intended, Frederic 


Harrison was justified in saying that "agnosticism as a reli- 
gious philosophy per se rests on an almost total ignoring of 
history and social evolution." But suppose further that our 
scholar, having naturally broad interests and sympathies, 
is still importuned by all that evidence in the moral and 
political spheres which he could not bring into conformity 
with his hypothesis: what will he do? In attempting to 
cling to an hypothesis which is based on the exclusion of 
half the evidence of life, while at the same time he feels the 
appeal of the whole range of evidence, he will try to develop 
that hypothesis into a complete philosophy of life, and in 
doing so he will necessarily fall into just those inconsistencies 
which strike us over and over again in Huxley. He will become 
a victim of that huge self-contradiction which I have called 
philosophical science. 

Now we all know how completely this sophism took posses- 
sion of England and the world about the middle of the last 
century. In particular the magnitude of Darwin's work in 
the field of positive science and the superb simplicity of his 
explanation of the whole order of existence, including man, 
as the product of a mechanical law of selection, easily imposed 
the evolutionary hypothesis as a lawgiver upon education and 
morals and religion and government. And to the authority 
of Darwin was added the persuasiveness of Huxley's masterly 
skill as lecturer and writer. It seemed to the men who heard 
his voice as if the long obscurity that had involved human 
destiny was to be rolled away, as if at last the pathway of 
truth had been found, and the world's great age was about to 
be renewed. And however we may now see the inconsistencies 
and feel what in another man might be called the duplicity 
that underlay Huxley's method of attack and defense, there 
was enough of the stuff of positive science in his doctrine to 
give it a certain moral stiffness and intellectual rigor which 
must always claim our admiration. But with the passage 
of years a change has come upon philosophical science. The 


human mind could not long rest content with a system which 
was so glaringly at war with itself, and indeed there are signs 
that Huxley himself was not always satisfied with his position. 
But where lay the way of escape? These men would not 
willingly give up the authority which seemed to be derived 
from the actualities of positive science, yet they began to 
see that the hypothesis of a block-universe had brought them 
to an absolute impasse. The history of the intellect since 
the days of Darwin's supremacy, therefore, has been marked 
by an attempt to preserve the facts of evolution as the basis 
of a scientific philosophy, but to alter the evolutionary hypoth- 
esis so as to bring it into harmony with the spontaneous part 
of human nature. The process has widened the distance 
between positive science and philosophical science; it has 
introduced a new set of inconsistencies, not to say absurdities, 
into thought, but it is extremely interesting for the way in 
which it has finally brought together two currents of the nine- 
teenth century that might have seemed to a superficial observer 
the very opposites of each other. What appeared in Huxley's 
time, and still more in the half-century preceding him, to be 
the very bulwark against those laxer principles and tendencies 
which may be grouped together as romantic, has gradually 
thrown off its hard rationalism, until now in our day philo- 
sophical science and romanticism are actually merging to- 
gether and becoming almost indistinguishable. In place 
of Huxley we have William James and Bergson. The change 
is significant and worthy of analysis, for the true meaning 
of a movement is known by its end. So much we may learn 
from Pragmatism, even while criticizing it. 

Nor is it difficult, if we regard the material and moral 
forces from which science and romanticism respectively take 
their start, so see how these two apparent enemies have come 
to join hands in a truce if not in an alliance. We do not often 
stop to reflect on the world of pain and horror which underlies 
this surface of things on which we move so comfortably. Only 


now and then some accident, some physical rebelHon as it 
might be called, sets loose the pent-up demonic powers, and 
for a moment life is as it would be if in a madhouse the phren- 
zied patients were to break their fetters and overcome their 
keepers. Each force of nature in itself seems to be limitless 
in its potential activity, and in so far as it is unchecked or 
unbalanced by some other force becomes the source of ruin 
to mankind. Manifestly that orderly subordination which 
is the condition of our physical well-being depends on some 
principle of control and balance which is not inherent in the 
individual forces of nature. Furthermore, if our horror at 
these calamities, if the physical repugnance that lies always 
concealed in our breast, have any meaning, it is in the testi- 
mony they bear to a certain correspondence on the one hand 
between our sense of moral evil and the destructive limit- 
lessness of any natural force in itself, and on the other hand 
between our sense of moral justice and the imposition of order 
and subordination upon those forces. We are thrust by our 
emotions into an absolute duahsm. Now the point to consider 
is that pure science deals with these forces in themselves and 
as unlimited, and without any thought of such human dis- 
tinctions. A little spark kindles a fire, and instantly the 
flames sweep over a city, consuming life and property and 
spreading everywhere destruction and terror. Yet with this 
terror science has nothing to do; it is concerned with the laws 
of heat. Again some movement takes place within the earth; 
the crust on which we walk is rent and shaken, and the helpless 
human creatures are killed and mutilated as ruthlessly as the 
ants in their little mound over which we inadvertently stumble. 
Yet with this hideous fear science has nothing to do; it is 
concerned with the laws of motion. Nor is the human body 
itself free from these incursions of uncontrolled energy. One 
very close to us, one whose fragile beauty has filled us with a 
long apprehension of love, is seized by a loathsome disease; 
those lower forms of life which to our vanity we seem to have 


trampled down in our progress have suddenly risen up like 
avenging furies and laid their obscene grip on what was 
dearest and fairest to us. We look on in an agony of suspense, 
as if in this precious body the very armies of good and evil 
were at war. Yet all the while the physician watches with 
impassive, critical eye, studying symptoms, applying reme- 
dies, awaiting calmly the results: his very efficacy as a man of 
science depends on his freedom from those emotions which 
are tearing at our heartstrings; he is concerned with the laws 
of parasitic life. 

Science is properly the servant of our emotions and of the 
corresponding sense of dualism, but in its method of work it 
not only ignores our emotions, but can perform its true service 
only so long as it ignores them and deals with the pure forces 
of nature. The error and danger arise when it disdains to 
be a servant and sets itself up as mistress, raising its means 
into an end and its procedure into a philosophy. Moved 
by our importunate consciousness of order and disorder, yet 
bound in its hypothetical explanation of evolution to consider 
the forces of nature alone, without the admission of any law 
of control outside of them, it has come gradually to a con- 
ception of the world as an entity containing within itself 
some force of vitalism, some clan vital, which by its inherent 
limitlessness is the source of constant creation, making the 
sum of things actually greater to-day than it was yesterday 
and, from our human point of view, more orderly. Sheer 
expansiveness becomes the law of physical life. The accept- 
ance of this hypothesis of an incalculable energy, whose action 
to-day can in no wise, or only imperfectly, be predicted from 
its action yesterday, might seem to evict the very possibility 
of scientific law; but there are two things to consider. In the 
first place this hypothesis is just an hypothesis and has little 
or no relation to the actual work of positive science. And 
in the second place it seduces the scientific mind by seeming 
to get rid altogether of that dualism which is ignored in 



scientific procedure. As a matter of fact it merely changes 
the character of that duahsm by setting the two terms apart 
at the beginning and end of time instead of regarding them as 
existent together and independent of time.^ 

From this rather slippery hypothesis of a universe in the 
process of continual self-expansion it is but a step to the modern 
scientific philosophy of human progress as depending, not 
on any ideal outside of evolution, but as — what shall I 
say? — as self-causative. Here precisely enters the point of 
connection between philosophical science and romanticism i^ 
but to understand its full meaning we must look back into the 
sources of the second member of the alliance. 

Now, in attempting to characterize the historic romanticism 
of the nineteenth century, the first trait that is forced upon our 
attention is the note of rebellion from the classics. That 
hostility between romanticism and classicism is fundamental: 
we cannot escape it. Greek philosophy, as it touches upon 
human conduct and as it was handed down to the modern 
world, was summed up in the Nicomachean Ethics, at the very 
heart of which lies the classical distinction between the infinite, 
as the absolute, and the limitless. According to Aristotle 

^ The middle term between the hypothesis of a purely mechanical evo- 
lution and the hypothesis of evolution as conceived by Bergson may be 
found in the evolutionary monism of Haeckel, which has been beautifully 
analyzed and demolished by M. Emile Boutroux in his recent work, La 
Science el la Religion dans la philosophie content poraine. 

^ This union was clearly foreshadowed in Diderot; it was developed by 
Comte; but its great authority could not come until after the work of 
Darwin. In one of his essays Huxley speaks with scorn of Mr. Frederic 
Harrison's Positivism, and asks: "What has Comtism to do with the 
'New Philosophy' [i.e., the philosophy of science]?" Mr. Harrison might 
easily have retorted. In fact when Huxley boasted that the bishops were 
to be replaced by the "new school of the prophets [i.e., men of science]" 
as " the only one that can work miracles," and when he acknowledged that 
"the interests of science and industry are identical," he was merely re- 
peating Comte's early theory of the supplanting of the priest and the soldier 
by the man of science and the man of business. 


the active nature of man is made up of desires, or impulses 
(eTndvfjLLat) , which in themselves are incapable of self-restraint 
and therefore limitless (aireLpos yap ri rrjs eirLdvfjLias (j)vcns, 
Pol., II, 4; the translation of aireLpos in Greek generally as 
"infinite" instead of "limitless" has been the source of endless 
confusion of ideas). Furthermore this limitlessness is of the 
very essence of evil, whereas good in itself may be defined as 
a limit (to yap KaKov rod airelpov to 8' ayadov tov ■Keirepaap.kvov) 
and the aim of conduct is to acquire that golden mean which 
is nothing other than a certain bound set to the inherent 
limitlessness of our impulsive or desiring nature. The deter- 
mination of this bound in each case is the function of reason, 
which embraces the whole existence of man as an organism 
in his environment and says to each impulse as it arises, thus 
far shalt thou go and no further. But as the basis of practical 
life is the limitless sway of unrelated impulses, reason, to 
establish its balance and measure, to find, that is, its norm of 
unity, must look ultimately to some point quite outside of the 
realm of impulse and nature. Hence the imposition of 
the theoretical life, as Aristotle calls it, upon the practical — 
the contemplation of that absolute unity which is unmoved 
amid all that moves. This unity not of nature is the infinite; 
it is the very opposite of that Hmitlessness which is the attri- 
bute of nature itself; it is not a state of endless, indefinite 
expansion, but is on the contrary that state of centralization 
which has its goal in itself (Trap' avTrjv ov8ev6s ecpieadac reXous). 
The revolt from this essential dualism of classical philosophy 
began in the seventeenth century. That age was notably a 
time of confused thinking and of reaching out in many direc- 
tions. But at its beginning, and always in the background, 
lay a certain mode of regarding life, the orthodox mode of 
supernaturalism. On the one side was the great flux of nature, 
embracing in its endless activity the heart of man and the 
phenomenal world. "The sea itself," says Bossuet, "has not 
more waves when it is agitated by the winds than are the 


diverse thoughts that rise from this abyss without bottom, 
from this impenetrable mystery of the heart of man." Within 
this chaos of the human breast sat reason as a kind of king 
or arbiter, by its command bringing order out of disorder. 
But reason itself, as understood by the characteristic minds 
of the age, belonged to nature, and was a sufficient guide only 
so long as it listened to the voice of a restraining power above 
and outside of nature. The true division was not between 
reason and instinct or desire, but between all these together, 
as forces of nature, and superrational insight. That is to say, 
the orthodox view of the seventeenth- century was the clas- 
sical duahsm which had become involved and obscured in 
a vast system of Christian mythology and theology. The 
irremediable fault, default one might say, of the age was that 
it never attained to a clear and untrammelled definition of 
the superrational insight upon which its faith was based. 
Pascal, indeed, approached such a definition when he set the 
heart over against reason and concupiscence, meaning by 
heart not so much the desires and emotions, as the contrast 
with concupiscence plainly shows, but that faculty by which 
we intuitively apprehend the infinite and eternal. Yet even 
in Pascal this faculty of intuition was never freed from the 
bondage of revelation and questionable authority, while in 
most of his religious contemporaries it was inextricably con- 
fused with some external voice of the Bible or the Church. 
Not many men to-day have the patience to read far in the 
endless theological Hterature of that age; and with reason. 
It is the curse of the Reformation that the search for truth 
was largely diverted by it into a monstrous and deadening 
discussion over the particular instrument or institution to 
which the truth was supposed to be once and for all imparted 
as a sacred deposit. He who is willing and strong to read 
those mighty books may be fortified in his own soul by feeling 
that the tremendous earnestness of this war over authority 
must have implied, beneath all the battle of words, an equal 


earnestness over the truth for which the debated authority 
was supposed to stand. But the actual result of that debate 
was to weary and bewilder the mind of contemporary men. 
Gradually the whole question of traditional authority, and 
with it the higher intuition which had been so obstinately 
identified with this authority, begins to lose its hold, and in 
its place comes the new reign of naturaHsm. 

Now naturalism is precisely the denial of any revealed 
authority or supernatural intuition whatsoever. For the 
government of the fluctuating element of nature it looks to 
reason alone, which it recognizes as but another, if higher, 
aspect of the same nature. Hence the dominant philosophy 
of the eighteenth century was a rationalism, which in religion 
denied, or at least minimized, all that is mysterious and escapes 
the net of logic, and in science regarded the world as a vast 
machine which can be perfectly expressed in a mathematical 
equation. Literature followed the lead and became rational 
and pseudo-classic. I would not exaggerate the regularity 
of this development, for, after all, the human mind remains 
always essentially the same and varies only as one or another 
element comes uppermost. And in particular any comment 
on the pseudo-classic literature (which in itself has many 
comfortable excellences) should not fail to distinguish the 
truly Augustan circle of Butler and Johnson and Reynolds 
and Goldsmith and Burke, whose humanism, like that of 
Horace, contained, not so much explicitly as in solution, the 
higher insight which the philosophy of their age was so busily 
hiding away. They contained, that is to say, some marks of 
true classicism as contrasted with pseudo-classicism. Never- 
theless the main current of the times was evident enough, 
and on its surface carried religion and science and literature 
in a compliant brotherhood. 

Johnson and his school belonged essentially to the main 
rationahstic stream of the age, though in some respects they 
surpassed it. But by their side there was springing up another 


school, equally a child of naturalism, but hostile to what may 
be called the official philosophy. Naturalism acknowledged 
both the reason and the instincts or emotions as belonging 
to the nature of man, and thus manifestly left the door open 
to a revolt against the tyranny of one element of nature over 
the other. Accordingly, almost with the beginning of ration- 
alism we see springing up, timidly and uncertainly at first, 
various forms of appeal to pure instinct and unrestrained 
emotion. This voice of insubordination first became clear 
and defiant and fully self-conscious in Blake; and the message 
of Blake, repeated in a hundred various notes, now tender 
and piercingly sweet, now blurred by strange rumblings of 
thunderous madness, is everywhere a summons to the perfect 
freedom of instinct and primitive emotion and a denunciation 
of the control demanded by reason or by authority of any sort: 

Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be 
restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place and governs the 

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. 

He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence. 

These epigrams are from The Marriage oj Heaven and Hell, 
a book which Swinburne was to rank ''as about the greatest 
produced by the eighteenth century in the line of high poetry 
and spiritual speculation,''^ and which to Mr. Arthur Symons 
was an anticipation of Nietzsche: "No one can think and 
escape Nietzsche; but Nietzsche has come after Blake, and 
will pass before Blake passes." Now Swinburne and Mr. 
Symons were indubitably right in seeing in such passages as 
these the very bible of romanticism, and Blake's place as an 
expositor of that movement, for England at least, is coming 
to be generally admitted. But in holding up Blake's revolt 
against reason as spiritual speculation they, and others, have 
fallen into the error which, as it seems to me, has made of 
romanticism the source of endless illusions. 


In the field of the imagination the school of Blake at the 
last carried victory with a high hand over the pseudo-classic 
and humanistic writers, and the nineteenth century opens 
upon a world pretty well divided between the quarrelsome 
twins of rational science and irrational romanticism. In so 
far as the romantic imagination yields to the self-sufiiciency 
of instinct and emotion it implies a real revolt from rationalism; 
it is in a way even more hostile to rationalism than the classic 
use of the imagination, for classicism never involved a rejec- 
tion of the reason, though it differed from pseudo-classicism 
by leaving the door open to an intuition above reason. But 
the peculiar tone of romantic writing comes not so much from 
the mere revolt against pseudo-classicism as from the illusion 
that this revolt is a return to spiritual insight. Here I am tread- 
ing on slippery ground, and it behooves me to walk warily. 
That all the spiritual aspirations of the nineteenth century 
were of a bastard birth, only a very ignorant or willful man 
would assert. Humanity is larger than any formula, and no 
age can be limited by a label. In the romantic literature 
that unfolds from Blake there is much that is simply true, 
much that is beautiful and magnificent, and there are moments 
that express the divine awe that belongs to the sudden 
infiooding of the veritable other- world; but in the most char- 
acteristic moods of that literature, when it expresses most per- 
fectly the main current of the age, there will be found, I believe, 
a deep confusion of ideas which results from assimilating the 
rebellion of the lower element of our nature with the control 
that comes from above nature. For the infinite spirit which 
makes itself known as a restraining check and a law of con- 
centration within the flux of nature, this new aspiration of 
liberty would substitute the mere endless expansion which 
ensues upon the denial of any restraint whatsoever; in place 
of the higher intuition which is above reason it would commit 
mankind to the lower intuition which is beneath reason. This 
illusion of the senses has dazzled the human mind in other 


ages as well as in the present. It shows itself here and there 
in the classics of antiquity. It developed a special form in 
the Alexandrian union of Oriental religion and Occidental 
philosophy, and was thus passed on to the Middle Ages. It 
can be found in the seventeenth century beside the true 
insight. It assumes many disguises and is often extremely 
difficult to distinguish from the supreme disillusion. The very 
fact that the same word, romantic, is used to designate the 
wonder of the infinite and the wonder of the limitless shows 
how easily we merge together these extreme opposites. But 
the historic romanticism of the nineteenth century, when it 
strikes its central note, whether it be the morbid egotism of 
a Beckford, or the religious defalcation of a Newman, or the 
aestheticism of a Pater, or the dregs of naturalistic pantheism 
seen in a Fiona Macleod, or the impotent revolt from human- 
itarian sympathy of a Nietzsche — • this romanticism is in 
its essence a denial of classical dualism and an illusory sub- 
stitution of the mere limitless expansion of our impulsive 
nature for that true infinite within the heart of man, which 
is not of nature and whose voice is heard as the inner check, 
restraining, centralizing, and forming. 

If romanticism is thus rightly defined, its point of contact 
with science is easily marked. Those limitless forces which 
were raised into the scientific hypothesis of a self-evolving, 
or rather self-creating, universe are the exact counterpart' in 
outer nature of those limitless desires or impulses in the heart 
which are the substance of the romantic illusion. They 
find their union in that very modern philosophy of life which 
may be called indifferently scientific or romantic. As it is 
concerned with conduct and the inner life rather than with 
material phenomena, it may be regarded as the offspring of 
romanticism; as it enjoys its great authority from a supposed 
connection with the actual discoveries of physical law, and has 
obtained its precise character from the evolutionary hypothesis, 
it may with equal propriety be regarded as the bastard off- 


spring of science — as, in a word, the latest form of philosoph- 
ical science. The keynote of this new philosophy, whether 
it take one of the many forms of Pragmatism or express itself 
in the evolutionary language of M. Bergson or conceal itself 
in the sardonic indifference of the man in the street, is a kind 
of laissez-faire, a belief that, as the physical world has unrolled 
itself by its own expansive forces, so human society progresses 
by some universal instinct, needing no rational and selective 
guidance, no imposition of moral restraint, no conscious 

And mark well, we are here concerned not with an idle 
question of the schools, but with a very real outcome in 
conduct. You will find the trace of this philosophy in every 
department of life. It has remolded our whole practice 
of education; and this perhaps is the point where its influence 
is clearest and where attack may be most successfully directed. 
Perhaps we do not often stop to consider the relation between 
the usurpation of purely scientific studies in our college 
curriculum with the Rousselian notion that education must 
place no restraint upon the child, but must merely help him 
to expand in the direction of his emotional instincts; yet in 
reality that relation is to-day the main factor in shaping our 
pedagogical theories. Positive science is a noble vocation, 
but just so sure as it is made in considerable part the basis of 
education, instead of being treated as a profession, like law 
or medicine, to be taken up after a general education, just so 
surely the confusions of philosophical science will follow and 
claim authority in our schools. The unhampered elective 
system, which is merely the pedagogical form of the new 
philosophy of laissez-faire, is in a way anything and every- 
thing; but one characteristic and one result of it are omni- 
present. It is characterized by a revolt from Greek and Latin, 
due in part no doubt to such subsidiary causes as the pedantry 
which laid its paralyzing hand on classical instruction, but 
due more essentially to the hostility between the classical 


way of viewing life and the new juncture of romantic and 
scientific philosophy. The result of the modern system is 
a laxity of mind in those who have drifted through our insti- 
tutions from kindergarten to university, a repugnance for 
good reading, in a word, that lack of real education which is 
more and more deplored by instructors in school and 

In politics the spirit of laissez-faire shows itself in the feel- 
ing that to be right we need only follow unhesitatingly the 
clamor of the day; whereas any suppression of a self-assert- 
ive movement in favor of a saner ideal already established 
is denounced as reaction and death. Take, for instance, our 
attitude towards socialism. Perhaps no comment is more 
frequently on the lips of the man in the street — that myste- 
rious arbiter of civilization — than the words: It is bound to 
come, why strive against it? As a matter of fact socialism, 
in some very imperfect form, may indeed come, but is by no 
means bound to come. To say that the whole teaching of 
history proves its necessity is to forget most of the chapters 
of that book, and is to fall into the common error of the half- 
educated who extend their knowledge of one age over all ages. 
I cannot see much difference between those who accept some 
form of socialism because by the very definition of Karl Marx 
it is a "fatal necessity," and those who accepted the old scho- 
lastic notion of God, with all its consequences, because by their 
own definition of God he must exist. The question here, 
however, is not the goodness or evil of socialism in itself, but 
the perilous state of any society which for some blind law of 
evolution surrenders its right to criticize and to determine 
its own course rationally. "Man," says M. Georges Sorel, 
the philosopher and for a time one of the leaders of the "syn- 
dicalist" branch of socialism in France — "man has genius 
only in the measure that he does not reflect." And when 
asked what new form of government should be erected on the 
ruins of society brought about by the general strike, M. Sorel 


replied that with such constructive thought for the future we 
had nothing to do; we had learned from Bergson to trust 
ourselves implicitly to the blind instinctive forces of nature. 

In like manner in regard to female suffrage: we deceive 
ourselves if we suppose that its admission or rejection will be 
the result of argument and rational conviction. The power 
that is bringing it into practical life is the sentiment heard from 
the mouth of every other man you meet: If the women want 
it, why, let them have it. And this sentiment finds support 
in the weary fatalism of the day: It is bound to come whether 
you like it or not; why resist the irresistible? Again, the 
question is not whether female suffrage is a good or an evil 
thing in itself, but the ignoble abdication of judgment in 
accepting any present tendency as a fatal force which it is 
useless, if not wrong, to curb. 

And so, to pass to quite another field, the laissez-faire of 
philosophical science is beginning to modify our whole treat- 
ment of crime. We no longer punish the criminal as a being 
responsible for his acts, under the belief that there is in man a 
voluntary power to shape his own character, but when we 
punish him at all, we do so apologetically, as if society and not 
he were the guilty party, and as if his crime were merely one 
of the products of evolution, like any disease to be cured 
by fresh air and flattery. I have no desire to enter into the 
intricacies of the new penology. But I have been impressed 
by two opinions from very diverse sources. I recall reading 
in one of the books of that connoisseur of the underworld, 
the late Josiah Flynt, the remark of a professional burglar 
to the effect that the only prevention against crime was sure 
and sharp punishment. And I connect with this observation 
the recent statement of the Police Commissioner of New York, 
to the effect that the excess of violence and lawlessness in 
this city is due to the number of suspended sentences and the 
general feeling among those criminally disposed that the courts 
will not convict. Mr. Waldo may have had various reasons 


for offering such an apology for his department, but it is sig- 
nificant to compare certain statistics of New York with those 
of London where the older habits of swift and relentless judg- 
ment still prevail. In our American city the average annual 
number of murders for the years 1908-10 was one hundred 
and seventeen, while the average number of convictions was 
only twenty-five. In London, with its population of seven 
million, the average for those years was twenty murders, for 
which fifteen persons either committed suicide before police 
action or were convicted.^ Among the causes for this alarming 
disproportion our evolutionary attitude towards crime is 
certainly not the least effective. In the end this whole phi- 

1 The following statistics from a leading article in the London Nation 
of March 30, 1912, entitled The Breakdown of American Justice, give a 
wider range to the question: "Since 1885 there have been some 177,000 
murders and homicides in the United States, but under 3000 executions. 
In 1885 the number of murders was 1808; in 1895 it had risen to 10,500; 
in 1910 it stood at 8975. In 1885 the number of executions was 108; in 
189s it was 132; in 1910 it was 104. Roughly speaking, Americans are 
now killing one another at the rate of over 9000 a year. Looking over the 
statistics of the past seven-and-twenty years, one finds that, while execu- 
tions have remained virtually stationary, murders and homicides have 
multiphed five-fold. In 1885 for every murderer executed seventeen 
murders were committed; in 1895 the proportion was one to seventy-nine; 
in 1910 it was one to eighty-six. There are, indeed, few crimes of which 
an American can more safely be guilty. If he commits a murder the odds 
are more than three to one against his ever being brought to trial; they 
are more than ten to one against his being sentenced to imprisonment; 
and, as has been said, they are more than eighty to one against his suffering 
the extreme penalty of the law. Those are the chances officially ascer- 
tained from official statistics, and they apply to the country as a whole 
and to all its people. But it need hardly be said that if the murderer is a 
white man the odds in his favor are very much above the statistical aver- 
age, and very much below them if he is a negro. Only one country in the 
world, Mexico, exceeds the American record of murders, a record that is 
proportionally five times as great in the United States as in Austraha, more 
than fourteen times as great as in England and Wales, eight times as great 
as in Japan, ten times as great as in Canada, and about twenty-five times 
as great as in Germany." 


losophy of naturalism, which bids us follow the lead of some 
blind self-developing instinct, is subject to the rebuke uttered 
by Bishop Butler long ago: "A late author [Wollaston] of 
great and deserved reputation says, that to place virtue in 
following nature, is at best a loose way to talk. And he has 
reason to say this, if what I think he intends to express, though 
with great decency, be true, that scarce any other sense can 
be put upon those words, but acting as any of the several 
parts, without distinction, of a man's nature happened most 
to incline him." 

In these practical and, perhaps, debatable applications we 
may seem to have got far away from the man whom I upheld as 
the typical spokesman of philosophical science. In fact the 
rational hypothesis of evolution as proclaimed by Huxley was, 
superficially considered, the very opposite of the confessedly 
anti-rational hypothesis that lends authority to the doctrine 
of moral laissez-faire. Nevertheless their parentage is certain, 
and even in Huxley hints of the derived philosophy are not 

In education, though Huxley's interests were too broad 
and in some respects too literary to permit a harsh condemna- 
tion of humanities, yet all his energy was devoted to intro- 
ducing science into the curriculum of the universities and 
schools. No doubt his action was justifiable to a certain 
extent and redounded to the genuine profit of pure science; 
but it had also the negative result at least of starting that 
transformation which has made of our classrooms a nursery 
for the sophisms of philosophical science. He was convinced 
that the sciences in themselves are sufficient for a liberal 
education, and on occasion he was ready to commend a foun- 
dation which made "no provision for 'mere literary instruc- 
tion and education,'" meaning by this "the ordinary classical 
course of our schools and universities." Biology, he thought, 
included really the whole philosophy of life; and education 
he limited to "instruction of the intellect in the laws of nature." 


If there was apparent liberality in his extension of these laws 
of nature to include "not merely things and their forces, but 
men and their ways," there was also in it the germ of a 
mischievous ambiguity. 

In matters political Huxley's practical sense of affairs kept 
his judgment clearer, and I do not know that there is anything 
in his writings which contradicts his expressed fear and dis- 
like of "regimentation and individualism — enforced Socialism 
and Anarchy." He has ringing words of rebuke for the whole 
policy of drifting (see, for instance, his letter of March 21, 1886, 
to a Member of Parliament). Yet the real tendency of his 
ideas comes out plainly enough in his attitude towards female 
suffrage. He was himself strongly opposed to the admission of 
women into politics, holding for biological reasons a sharp 
distinction between the spheres of the two sexes. Neverthe- 
less, when he came to deal directly with the emancipation of 
women his method was that of the man in the street. "Let 
them have a fair field," he said, "but let them understand, 
as the necessary correlative, that they are to have no favour. 
Let nature alone sit high above the lists, 'rain influence and 
judge the prize.'" 

The new romantic philosophy of evolution as a continuous 
process of self-creation had scarcely arisen to perturb the 
rationalism of Huxley, and he was too stalwartly intellectual 
to have succumbed to it even if it had been in the air; yet the 
outcome of his teaching was that exaltation of science which 
laid the minds of the next generation open to its alluring 
seduction. The final influence of his words, if not always his 
avowed intention, was to establish the new law of progress: 
Let nature sit high above the lists; which may be interpreted 
by his own remark on another occasion: "The best way of 
getting disorder into order [is] to let it alone." Not many 
lives in the Victorian era were more unselfish than his, not 
many men pursued truth with a nobler devotion, not many 
had broader and finer interests ; nevertheless, in the end it 


must be said, sadly and reverently, that his legacy to mankind 
was confusion of ideas and relaxation of judgment. 

We have seen the triumphs of Huxley at Oxford, the seat 
of his enemies. Let us take leave of this somewhat ungrateful 
theme by calling up another scene at the same university. 
In 1864, there was a Diocesan Conference at Oxford. There 
chanced at this time to be in the neighborhood a man who was 
neither priest nor scientist, a man given to absurd freaks of 
intellectual charlatanry, yet showing at times also such mar- 
velous and sudden penetration into the heart of things as 
comes only to genius. It was Disraeli. "He lounged into 
the assembly," so the scene is described by Froude, "in a 
black velvet shooting-coat and a wide-awake hat, as if he had 
been accidentally passing through the town. . . . He began 
in his usual affected manner, slowly and rather pompously, 
as if he had nothing to say beyond perfunctory platitudes." 
And then, turning to the presiding officer, the same Bishop 
Wilberforce whom four years earlier Huxley had so crushingly 
rebuked, he uttered one of his enigmatic and unforgettable 
epigrams: "What is the question now placed before society 
with a glibness the most astounding? The question is this: 
Is man an ape or an angel? I, my lord, am on the side of 
the angels." The audience, not kindly disposed to the 
speaker, applauded the words as a jest; they were carried 
the next day over the whole land by the newspapers; they 
have often been repeated as an example of Disraeli's brilliant 
but empty wit. I suspect that beneath their surface glitter, 
and hidden within their metaphor pointed to suit an Oriental 
taste, these words contain a truth that shall some day break to 
pieces the new philosophy which Huxley spent his life so 
devotedly to establish. 


Eugene Davenport 

It is dangerous to attempt to educate a live boy 
with no reference to the vocational.^ 

The first general principle to be recognized is this: That 
industrial education cannot be considered by itself alone any- 
more than industrial people can live alone. It is at best but 
part of a general scheme of education that aims at a higher 
efiiciency of all classes of people, and it is in this light that 
industrial education should be studied and its problems 

The most significant educational fact to-day is that men of 
all classes have come to look upon education as a thing that 
will better their condition; and they mean by that, first of 
all, something to make their labor more effective and more 
profitable; and second, they mean something that will enable 
them to live fuller lives. They have no very clear idea of 
the methods for bringing it all about, nor have they any very 
good means of impressing their views and desires upon us at 
educational conventions; but to better their condition through 
education is the abiding faith and purpose of all men every- 
where, and they will persist until it is realized. 

The ruling passion of the race to-day is for education; and 
colleges and schools of all sorts, both public and private, day 
classes and night classes, winter and summer, are filled to 

1 From Education for Efficiency; copyright. Reprinted by permission 
of the author and of D. C. Heath and Company. 

2 This chapter covers the general line of thought developed by the 
author in an address at the dedication of the new agricultural building at 
the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, May 28, 1909. 


overflowing. The only educational institution that is being 
deserted is the old-time district school, and that is failing 
only where it is unable to satisfy the new demands, and 
where this occurs its lineal successor is the public high school, 
which is everywhere becoming the favorite agency of modern 
education of the masses in America. 

The training of the young for the duties of life is no longer 
left to the charity of the church nor to private endowment, 
however munificent. 

We do not ask a man to pay the expense of his own educa- 
tion, and we no longer require the parent to pay for the school 
of his child. We have come to recognize that in the last 
analysis the child belongs to the community, and public 
welfare requires that he be educated. So we have the policy 
of universal education well established among us and the 
largest item of public as well as of private expense is for 

Now this is not sentiment, it is business; it is not charity, 
it is statesmanship. We propose to maintain all sorts of 
education for all sorts of people, and to keep them in school 
as long as we can — so far have we gone already in this worship 
of the idol of our day and time. 

Yes, truly the ruling passion of the race is for education. 
Individuals would amass wealth; individuals would exert 
influence and power; individuals would live lives of luxury 
and ease, but the common purpose of the masses of men from 
all the walks of life is a set determination to acquire knowledge. 
Daughters of washerwomen graduate from the high school, 
and ditchers' sons go to college — not by ones and twos, but 
literally by hundreds and thousands, and if the ruling passion 
fails in individual cases, we have a law that puts the child 
into school, willy-nilly, on the ground that to this extent, 
at least, he is public property. 

Now what is to be the consequence of all this? What will 
the daughter of the washerwoman do after she has graduated 


from the high school? Will she take her mother's place at the 
tub? What think you? If not, how will the washing be 
done? and was her schooling a blessing or a curse to the com- 
munity? — because the tub must stay; and if she does take 
her place at the tub, was her schooling a blessing or a curse to 
her? Will the ditcher's son inherit the father's spade? and if 
not, how will ditches be dug if all men are to be educated? 
How will the world's work get done if education takes men and 
women out of useful and needful occupations and makes them 
over into pseudo ladies and gentlemen of leisure? How, too, 
will their own bills be paid except they labor as men have 
always labored? It is idle to say that a portion of the race 
should be left ignorant that they may perform the undesirable 
though necessary labor. The "portion" objects, and what are 
we going to do about it? Now these are disagreeable ques- 
tions, and we would rather not be forced to answer them; but 
they are fundamental, and will soon begin to answer themselves 
in some fashion under our system of education, which is 
rapidly becoming universal. 

We are now engaged in the most stupendous educational, 
social, and economic experiment the world has ever undertaken 
— the experiment of universal education; and whether in 
the end universal education shall prove a blessing or a curse 
to us will depend entirely upon our skill in handling the issues 
it has raised for our solution. We have entered too far upon 
this experiment ever to retire from it, even if we desired to do 
so, which we do not; and if the outcome is to be safety and 
not anarchy, and if it is all to result in further development of 
the race and not in retrogression, then a few fundamentals 
must soon be clearly recognized and brought into and made a 
part of our educational ideals, policies, and methods. 

First, if we are to have universal education, it must contain 
a large element of the vocational, because all the needful 
activities must l)e maintained in the educated state as here- 
tofore. The race cannot progress any more in the future 


than in the past except by the expenditure of large amounts 
of human energy. This being so, education cannot be looked 
upon as an avenue to a life of ease, or as a means of giving 
one man an advantage over another, whereby he may exist 
upon the fruit of that other's labor and the sweat of that other's 
brow. It might do for a few; it cannot do for the mass, whose 
efficiency must be increased and not decreased by education; 
because in the last analysis education is a public as well as a 
personal matter, and the interests of the state require that the 
ratio of individual efficiency in all lines shall be constantly 

Second, within the limits of needful activities one occupa- 
tion is as important as another, and a system of universal 
education must enrich them all, or the end will be disastrous. 
We need to change our views concerning what have been 
regarded as menial employments. In the millennium no 
woman will make her living over the washtub, nor will she 
sing the song of the shirt day and night forever; but neither 
will education and .elevation free her, or any one else, from a 
fair share of the drudgery of life, because the needful things 
must still be done. Nor must we fail to remind ourselves 
that not all the labor of the world is at the washtub, or at the 
bottom of the ditch, because success in any calling is the price 
of unremitting and exhausting toil, against which education 
is no insurance whatever. It can only promise that faithful 
labor shall have its adequate and sure reward. And that 
is enough, for no man has a right to ask that he be freed from 
labor on this earth; he can only pray to be relieved from the 
burden of aimless and fruitless drudgery — which is the 
blessed assurance of education. 

While education is no relief from labor, or even drudgery, 
it ought, however, to lessen the totality of drudgery by 
the further utilization of mechanical energy and the more 
economic and intelligent direction of human effort. Educa- 
tion will never fully justify itself until this shall have been 


accomplished and the human machine be Uberated from the 
last form of slavery — the drudgery that is born of ignorance. 

No man, then, educated or uneducated, has a right to be 
useless. Most men will continue to earn and ought to earn, 
in one way or another, the funds to pay their bills, and in this 
natural way will the world's work get done in the future as 
in the past. The education of all men, therefore, is, or should 
be, in a broad sense vocational, and the so-called learned 
professions are but other names for developed industries. 
In this broad sense every useful activity is included, from 
farming to music and painting, poetry and sculpture; from 
engineering to medicine and law, philosophy and theology; 
as wide and as varied as the activities and capacities of the 
human race — so wide and so varied must our education be 
if it is to be universal and be safe. 

Measured by this standard, farming has the same claims 
upon education as have language and literature, but no more; 
for both are useful, or may be, though in different ways. 
Which is more useful we cannot tell any more than we can tell 
whether food or religion is the more essential to human life; 
or whether art or industry contributes most to its fullest 
development. We only know that all things within the range 
of human capacity are useful, and that education may, if 
it will, enrich them all. 

Now this demand is right, for, unless universal education 
can be so administered as not greatly to disturb the relations 
of needful activities, it will prove in the end a curse instead of 
a blessing, and it is the business of educators now soberly 
to consider the consequences of headlong policies, however 
promising in direct results, if they do not reckon with the 
inevitable outcome. 

Third, in the working out of these plans such policies and 
methods must be observed as shall prevent social cleavage 
along vocational lines. Unless we can do this, democracy 
will, in the end, fail. We cannot go on with one half of the 


people educated and the other half ignorant, any more than 
we could live with one half free and the other half slave. No 
more can we live with one half educated to one set of ideals 
and the other half to another. If we attempt it, we shall 
have, in due time, not civilization — but a tug of war between 
highly educated but mutually destructive human energies. 
The only safety for us now is in the education of all classes 
to common ideals of individual efficiency and public service 
along needful lines and with common standards of citizenship. 
To this end the individual must have training, both vocational 
and humanistic, and it is better if he does not know just 
when or how he is getting either the one or the other. 

Fourth, remembering that what is one man's vocation is 
another's avocation, and that what is technical and profes- 
sional to one is humanistic to another ; remembering that all 
study is educational and that utility does not lessen its value; 
remembering, too, that much of our education comes from 
association and that the best of it comes in no other way — 
remembering all these and many other considerations well 
known to the thinking man, we must agree that in a system 
of universal education the best results will always follow when 
as many subjects as possible and as many vocations as may be 
are taught together in the same school, under the same manage- 
ment and to the same body of men. In no other way can a 
perfectly homogeneous population be secured. In no other 
way can universal efficiency be so closely combined with good 
citizenship. In no other way can activity and learning be 
so intimately united. In no other way can morals and good 
government be so safely intrusted to a free people. 

As I see it, the greatest hindrance to the natural evolution of 
a single system of schools adapted to the education of all 
classes of our people is academic tradition which needs 
substantial modification in a number of important par- 

The truth is, there is no such thing as a "general education," 


except one that fits for nothing in particular, leaving the pos- 
sessor stranded without occupation or other field for the 
exercise of his trained activities. In so far as this type of 
general education exists among us, the quicker we abolish 
it the better. For example, it has been fashionable to speak 
of the courses in the arts and sciences as "general," "non- 
technical," or "liberal," using the terms synonymously and 
as opposed to the technical or professional. 

Now this is inaccurate and leads to much confusion of mind. 
Courses in the arts and sciences are not by nature general 
and non-technical, because an examination of the facts will 
discover that most of the students taking those courses in 
colleges are taking them for professional purposes in prepara- 
tion for definite careers, generally teaching; possibly banking, 
railroad administration, or the business of an analytical or 
manufacturing chemist or some other gainful occupation. 
That is to say, the courses in the arts and sciences are mostly 
taken as professional or vocational courses the same as are 
those in engineering and agriculture. 

The best evidence of this erroneous use of terms is that 
those who make most of the distinction between the technical 
and the non- technical courses; those who talk most about 
the latter being liberal as distinct from the former; those 
who outcry loudest against commercializing education are 
teachers themselves, who are earning money like farmers. 
Now by what rule do we adjudge that farming is a calling 
and teaching a profession? that engineering is industrial and 
journalism liberal? that courses fitting for farming are technical 
and narrow, and those fitting for teaching or making chemical 
determinations are general and liberal? The truth is they are 
all alike vocational; they are all professional; they all open 
avenues whereby men and women earn money to pay their 
bills, and ninety-nine out of a hundred of those who are good 
for anything in any and all these courses are taking them for 
the same purpose, viz. to afford a congenial field of activity 


whereby the individual may become a worthy and self-sustain- 
ing member of society. 

The truth is that the distinction between the technical and 
the non-technical, the professional and the non-professional, 
the narrow and the liberal, does not inhere in courses of study 
leading to graduation, for the same subject may be either the 
one or the other according to the point of view of the student 
and the purpose for which it is taken. For example, chemistry 
per se is neither technical nor non-technical, narrow nor liberal. 
It is a great field of science. As explored and studied by an 
agricultural student, or by one who proposes to make his 
living as an analytical or a manufacturing chemist — to 
them it is a technical subject, while to the student of literature 
it becomes a non-technical and therefore a liberal subject, 
because it liberalizes him and broadens his outlook upon the 
world and helps to connect him with the farmer and manu- 
facturing chemist. To the prospective teacher it becomes 
technical or non-technical; vocational or non-vocational, 
according as he proposes or does not propose to teach it. 
To the farmer, chemistry is a technical subject, and literature 
and history non-technical, and therefore liberal. To the 
teacher of history, conditions would be reversed. 

Another academic reform is to get over our horror of the 
vocational. The old-line courses were as distinctly vocational 
to the learned professions as are the newer courses to the 
industrial occupations. The services of education to the 
industries of life and the ordinary occupations of men have 
been so recent that final adjustments are not yet made. We 
are only gradually beginning to learn that every useful man, 
educated or uneducated, has a calling and that the hne be- 
tween the technical and the non-technical, between the 
narrow and the liberal, runs across individuals, not between 
them. Every properly educated man is trained both vocationally 
and liberally, but one vocation is not necessarily more liberal 
than another except as the practitioner makes it so. To sue- 


ceed in any calling requires the possession of a body of specific 
knowledge relating directly to that calling, mostly useless 
professionally to one of another calling, but far from useless 
as a liberalizer. 

Every man, to be efficient, needs the vocational; to be 
happy and safe he needs the other. John Bessmer was a 
barber and made his living by his scissors, but meteorology 
was his avocation. He was the best barber I ever knew, but 
he talked most about meteorology. The ditcher will not ditch 
all his waking hours. What will he think about when he is 
awake and not in the ditch? Then is when his avocation, 
the liberal part of his education, is his comfort and our safety, 
for the mind is an unruly member, and if the man has no 
training beyond his vocation, his intellect is at sea, without 
chart, compass, or rudder, and the human mind adrift is a 
dangerous engine of destruction. 

It is well that we who are bent most upon industrial train- 
ing and development do not forget these considerations, and 
in our enthusiasm for technical instruction we see to it also 
that every individual has a fair share of the liberal as well, 
for the chief distinction of the educated man is, after all, his 
ability to view the world from a standpoint broader than 
his own surroundings. 

Another relic of academic ancient history that ought to be 
eliminated is that habit of thought which runs in the form of 
set courses of study four years long. This habit of thought 
has stood in the way of the proper and adequate development 
of agriculture in our colleges, and it is now standing in the 
way of high-school differentiation and the development of 
industrial courses therein. 

For example, it has been assumed without discussion that 
a student desiring instruction in agriculture must enter upon 
a set course for four years, and that unless he graduated he 
had somehow failed, or the course was too long. It never 
seemed to occur to our educational fathers and grandfathers 


that perhaps the course was not adapted to his needs any 
more than it seems to occur to some of our contemporaries 
that men go to school to study subjects, not set courses, and 
that the benefits of our instruction are by no means confined 
to those who graduate. 

There is nothing sacred about four years, or about a par- 
ticular association of subjects. We must get over our fetish 
worship of what we call a "course of study" and bestow our 
attention upon "courses of instruction." Our somewhat 
uniform failure to do this has been responsible for much 
special and unnecessary limitation in the subject of agriculture. 
Let me illustrate: A good friend some months ago asked me 
this question: "Why do you not have a two-years course in 
agriculture in the University of Illinois? " I replied by asking, 
"Tell me first why do you have one in your university?" He 
replied, "Because many young men cannot, or will not stay, 
for a four-years course." And I said, "Then of course you 
have also two-year courses in the arts and sciences, and in 
engineering." And he said with an elevation of the eyebrows, 
very significant, "No, of course not." Then I said, "Why 
not? Do all or most of your students in the other colleges 
remain and complete four-year courses?" He had to answer, 
"No, not a third of them." I think I had answered his ques- 
tion, but to make sure I said, "When the other colleges of 
the University of Illinois find it necessary or desirable to put 
in two-year courses because not more than one student in 
three or four stays to graduate, then I suppose we shall do the 
same; but until then I think we shall continue to teach 
subjects to those who come, and bestow honors on those 
who have earned the usual amount of credit." Here is a 
good illustration of our futile efforts to hammer a new subject 
into line with ancient academic custom, as if graduation from 
something, even a two-years course, were the chief end of 
the schooling process. 

This same old habit of thought is the bane of the high schools 


to-day in their effort to serve the people. Many of them 
consider the limit reached when a four-years course is offered, 
made up largely out of old-line subjects with little or no 
reference to local needs, and when we talk about instruction 
in vocational subjects they remind us that the "course is full." 
This mistaken attitude on the part of too many high school 
men will do more than all other causes combined to force upon 
us a multitude of separate technical schools and destroy the 
opportunity of the high schools forever, because men are 
as firmly bent on vocational education of a secondary grade 
to-day as their fathers were bent on industrial education of 
collegiate grade half a century ago. The same forces are at 
work in high schools now as were at work among colleges 
then, and the issue will be the same. Either the high schools 
will expand and teach the vocational, or other schools will be 
established that will do it. 

One good friend whom I greatly honor, because he is many 
years my senior, and many degrees my superior in every 
sense, writing me on this point, said in substance: "Your 
idea that all subjects needful to the life of the community 
should be taught in the same school is fine in theory, but how 
are you going to get it all into the course, and what shall be 
left out?" How this instinctive attitude of mind clings to 
us academic people! It is not much found except among 
professional educators, and with them it is one of the relics 
of academic ancient history, dating back to the time when the 
college provided a set course for all students and which, when 
full, was full in the same sense that the jug is full. 

Recently the colleges have learned the lesson of the tremen- 
dous complexity of modern demands, and they are beginning 
to realize something of the depth and breadth of the meaning 
of universal education; at least that it means the education 
of many men for many things and by means of various mate- 
rials and methods. This involves many courses in one school. 
It requires that colleges teach subjects rather than set courses; 


and nothing is full so long as any branch of knowledge and 
activity remains undeveloped and men and money hold out. 
The colleges have learned this; it is also the lesson for the 
secondary schools; indeed, in a very large sense the land- 
grant university is the model for the public high school. 

Our children look to the schools to fit them for the many 
duties of life. Let them not be disappointed. To this end 
we must construct such educational policies and employ such 
materials and methods as shall make the school a true picture 
of life outside in all its essential activities. To accomplish 
this we must introduce vocational studies freely, not for 
their pedagogic influence but for their own sake and for the 
professional skill and creative energy they will give the learner. 
We must do this, too, without excluding the non-professional 
either from the school or from the individual. 

Take a specific instance outside of agriculture, but one 
which is typical of thousands of cases. There are many good 
families whose daughters feel the need of earning some little 
money during years of young womanhood between the school 
age and matrimony. They are good typical American girls, 
worthy the love and the service of any man, and sometime 
the hero will come. In the meantime, what? 

We will suppose that the girl in question looks with favor 
upon stenography and typewriting as a congenial employment. 
Now I put the question flatly, remembering there are many 
like her in the same community, — shall the high school put 
in courses of typewriting and stenography which she may take 
in connection with her humanistic studies and her domestic 
science which she will one day need? — for this typical girl 
is, or should be, a prospective wife and mother. Will the 
school do this? or will it force her to leave her high school in 
order to get elsewhere this vocational training which she thinks 
she must have, because of temporary needs, and which the 
high school will not give her lest it should be suspected of 
commercializing education? 


I am thankful that many high schools are already putting 
in vocational courses. May their numbers increase. It is 
far better to hold this girl in the high school and teach her 
also the things she will one day need much more than she will 
then need her stenography and typewriting, — it is better 
for her and it is better for the community than it is to force 
her, in early years and under the exigency of immediate needs, 
to abandon the greater for the less. Yes, it is better to take 
stenography and typewriting, telegraphy and bookkeeping 
into the high school than it is to drive our girls out of it even 
into the night schools. A proper policy at this point will save 
to American wifehood and American homes thousands of 
bachelor maids and factory girls, and do more to reduce the 
ratio of divorce than any other civilizing force with which 
we hold acquaintance. 

What is true of many girls is doubly true of most boys. 
If they are good for anything, the impulse to be doing some- 
thing definite takes hold of them early, and the only way to 
keep a live boy in school or to make him good for anything 
after he leaves it is to be certain that some portion of his 
curriculum relates directly to some form of business activity 
outside. // is dangerous to attempt to educate a live boy with 
no reference to the vocational. 

The trouble has been in the past, and is yet, that our courses 
of instruction have been too few. We have not sufficiently 
distinguished between what a single individual could take 
and what the community as a whole ought to know. Accord- 
ingly, men seeking education have found much of the subject- 
matter and of the method grossly unsuited to the uses they 
hoped to make of it, and have either left the school, sacrificing 
their broader opportunity, or have stayed to the sacrifice of 
their efficiency. 

The universities have been first to recognize this fact and 
to meet it. With the best of them there is no thought of a 
set course which every individual must take, but rather the 


aim is to offer instruction in as many as possible of the branches 
of knowledge that interest and profit men. The result is 
that in these institutions few men are taking courses with a 
fixed sequence, but each is after the instruction which will best 
fit his needs, and often two men take the same subject side 
by side with a very different purpose and from a very different 
point of view. 

Now the efficiency of modern university education, espe- 
cially along new lines, is becoming notable, and institutions 
conducted upon this plan are overrun with students seeking 
definite instruction for definite purposes, all of which indicates 
the educational policy that best meets the needs of the people. 
Here is the cue to the general plan that should characterize 
the high schools, upon which educators ought to bestow some 
degree of special attention, because it is in the secondary 
schools and not in the colleges that the American people will 
mostly be educated. 

A third particular in which we need academic reformation 
is this: Not only college courses, but high school courses, 
as well, are planned and conducted almost solely in the in- 
terest of the few who graduate, with but little reference to 
the masses who drop by the wayside. If our system of edu- 
cation is to achieve the highest results, it must recognize the 
natural difference in men, both qualitatively and quanti- 
tatively, and while it trains the brightest and best for the 
positions of most responsibility and therefore of honor, it 
must so shape its policy that those who for any reason cannot, 
or do not, remain to the Hmit of time, or whose academic 
ability is mediocre shall drop naturally into useful places for 
which their little schooling has somewhat definitely prepared 
them. Thus will our human flotsam and jetsam be lessened, 
and thus shall we become more homogeneous as a people. 
Thus too shall we be consistent, for does not our education 
aim to be universal? 

Our high schools, or rather their constituency, are suffering 


cruelly at this point to-day. The chief object in too many 
ambitious schools is to get on the accredited list of as many 
universities as possible, graduate as many students as may be, 
and get them into college. So intense is this purpose that 
in too many instances the course of study and the methods 
of work are inadvertently but largely shaped in the interest 
of those who are to graduate, though we know only too well 
that their ratio is small, and that of those who go to college 
it is still smaller. 

It is time the high schools served the interests of their 
community first of all; and if they will do that thoroughly, 
the colleges will manage to connect with them on some terms 
mutually satisfactory. If that is impossible, then let the 
high school faithfully discharge its natural functions to the 
community that gives it life and support, and leave adjust- 
ments to the universities. The few who go beyond the high 
school will be abundantly able to take care of themselves 
if only their training has been thorough, and they have learned 
habits of efficiency. I protest against the reduction of the 
American high school to the basis of a college preparatory 
school, unless it is first built upon what is a rational education 
for the masses of men. We have no right to reduce, impover- 
ish, or distort the educational opportunity of the great mass 
of people who depend upon the high school for their only 
education, in the interest of the few who go to college. 

We are nearing the time when for various reasons we shall 
revolutionize our secondary education as we have already 
revolutionized our college standards. We shall offer many 
courses of instruction in many subjects, some vocational, 
others not; some vocational to certain students, not so to 
others, and all in the same school. We shall not be on sound 
ground in this matter unlil things are so fixed that when a 
boy or girl comes into contact with our school system at any 
point, even for a short time, he or she will at once and of 
necessity strike something vocational and also something not 


vocational; to the end that, however soon the student leaves 
the system, he will carry out into life at least something which 
will make him more efficient at some point, and also more 
cultivated, because the schools have taught him something 
of actual life, not only in the abstract but in its application. 

The greatest trouble with our educational system to-day is 
that it is laid out too much on the plan of a trunk line railroad 
without side switches or way stations, but with splendid 
terminal facilities, so that we send the educational trains 
thundering over the country, quite oblivious of the popula- 
tion except to take on passengers, and these we take on much 
as the fast train takes mail bags from the hood. We do our 
utmost to keep them aboard, to the end, and we work so 
exclusively for this purpose that those who leave us are fitted 
for no special calling, and drop out for no special purpose, 
but roll off like chunks of coal by the wayside — largely a 
matter of luck as to what becomes of them. I would recon- 
struct the policy of the system by making all trains local, 
both to take on and leave off passengers; and I would pay 
much attention to the sidings, and the depots, and their 
surroundings at the way stations, to the end that those who 
do not complete the journey may find congenial surroundings 
and useful employment in some calling along the line. I 
mean by this that while vocation should be neither the end • 
nor the means of the educational process, yet it should be 
its inseparable concomitant. This is education for efficiency 
and service, whether it ever earns an academic degree or not. 

We need not fear real education for real efficiency, but we 
may well tremble when we see a whole people gorging them- 
selves with a mass of knowledge that has no application to 
the lives they are to live, for this will breed in the end dis- 
satisfaction and anarchy. The best illustration of this educa- 
tional short-sightedness is the fondness of many a classically 
educated colored brother for Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, not 
so much for what they can do for him, or help to do for him- 


self or others, as because the acquisition of language is a 
pleasant exercise and its possession a satisfying novelty. 
Fortunately Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee are in 
the land, but unfortunately our educational blunders are not 
limited to the colored race. It is a notable and perhaps 
significant fact that a very large proportion of the tramps of 
the country have had the advantages of our schools. 

Another point at which our minds are in danger of wander- 
ing far afield is in regard to the natural function of the second- 
ary school. The American high school is a new institution, 
and like all new institutions it lacks ideals and methods. It 
has displaced, in the West at least, the old-time academy 
whose function it was to fit for college. The high school, 
lacking models, has followed very largely and quite naturally 
the plan of the academy whose mantle it has inherited. In this 
it has erred. The modern high school is not the lineal descen- 
dant of the old-time academy, and its primary fuyiction is not to 
fit for college. It is a new institution, and its function is to 
educate its natural and local constituency for the duties of life. 
It is as thoroughly a public institution as is the state university 
and it should serve its community in the same way and with the 
same spirit that the university serves the larger and more complex 

It is the first business of the high schools to serve the public 
needs directly through the masses of men and women who 
constitute their natural constituency, not indirectly through 
the colleges. Their service to education and to civilization is 
primary, fundamental, and direct, not secondary and pre- 
paratory. Nor in saying this do I reflect upon the great 
work of our institutions of highest learning; far from it. 
No man can exceed me in admiration of the supreme service 
of the colleges and the universities of the country, but that 
supreme service must be rendered without overshadowing, 
distorting, or injuring that other service, which, after all, is 
more direct, reaches a larger number, and without which the 


influences of the colleges and universities will be largely- 
dissipated and lost. 

If the existing high schools will earnestly address them- 
selves to this great duty, they will become, next to the church, 
the most powerful educating and elevating agencies of our 
civilization; but if they do not, then as sure as time passes 
another system of schools will arise that will do it, and the 
time will not be long hence until they will divide the field 
with technical schools and play a losing game of chance with 
them. The first independent schools will be trade schools 
in the cities and agricultural schools in the country, and this 
lead will be followed by others until we shall have a whole 
system of vocational schools of all conceivable sorts; and the 
high schools will be stripped, first of one opportunity to serve 
their constituency and then of another, until their usefulness 
will be lessened, if not entirely destroyed in the eyes of the 
people, who alone can support them, and they will be relegated 
to girls' schools and training schools for college admission. 

This is no fanciful picture, and I am convinced that unless 
we are quick to read and heed the handwriting on the wall 
to-day the next decade or two will witness the permanent 
decline of the high school under the onslaught of the multi- 
tude of independent vocational schools that will spring up 
everywhere and which will seem to serve well because the 
service is direct and plainly useful. The only great future 
for the high school is to add vocational work, making the 
separate technical school unnecessary, if not impossible. If 
they will do this, their future and their service are assured; 
but if the people find it necessary to establish another system 
of secondary education as they did a new system of collegiate 
grade, then they will do it; but if they do, they will certainly 
insist upon a fair division of the revenues, because modern 
high schools are not private institutions as were the old- 
time colleges; they are in every sense of the term public 


Experience in university circles has shown that the separate 
professional college was necessary in the past only because of 
the indifference to new demands of the institutions then 
existing. As soon, however, as the universities seriously set 
about studying the new problem from their own standpoint 
it was found that there was really nothing incompatible be- 
tween the old and the new ideals, but rather that it took the 
two together to make a complete system of education, and 
where the two have been already joined, — the professional 
and the cultural, the industrial and the humanistic, — there 
has education flourished best in the last decade; there is the 
educational impulse strongest to-day, and there, if wise 
counsels prevail, will develop in good time the greatest educa- 
tional strength and creative power of this most virile of 
people; not only along industrial lines, but along artistic and 
humanistic lines as well. 

If the high schools make the most of their opportunity, 
they will develop into a great system capable of training the 
masses of our people not only industrially but for all the 
duties of life, and in a way that can never be equaled by any 
multiple system of separate vocational schools, however well 
established and conducted. One school with many courses, 
not many schools with different courses — that is the plan 
for American secondary education. Such a school would be 
large enough and strong enough to afford an excellent educa- 
tion within walking or driving distance of every young person 
— an ideal not attainable by any system of separate schools 
that can ever be established. I have unlimited faith in the 
final development of the high school, and cannot condemn 
in terms too strong a pessimistic or a carping spirit toward 
this new and remarkable system of education at the very 
doors of the people; and I cannot oppose too strongly any 
and all influences that tend to make its proper evolution 
either impossible or more difficult. 

We must not underrate the importance of the average 


citizen, either to himself or to the community, for the common 
man with an opportunity is a common man no longer. If 
we would know what a community of common people can 
do when it addresses itself seriously and en masse to a single 
purpose, consider the success of that little German village in 
breeding canaries, marvel upon the achievements in the Pas- 
sion Play at Oberammergau, or even the singing of the Messiah 
in that little Swedish village of Kansas, as described in a 
recent Outlook. 

Remembering what the common man may do, with proper 
ideals and advantages, there is no higher duty now resting 
upon all of us, and especially upon educators, than to unite 
education and activity by the closest possible bonds, to 
prevent on the one hand the acquirement of knowledge to 
no purpose, and on the other the development of operative 
skill with little knowledge of the true relations of things; 
to see to it that no individual shall be compelled to choose 
between an education without a vocation, and a vocation 
without an education. This supreme responsibiUty rests 
heavily upon every American community just now, and in 
our enthusiasm for education that is useful it is well if we 
temper our enthusiasm with judgment and keep always in 
mind the fundamentals on which all real education must 
rest. If this be true, it is imperative that the high school as 
an educational institution should take hold of and care for 
all the essential activities of its community; and if the clay 
working or some other interest develop into a separate organi- 
zation with a separate plant, that it still be under the control 
of the high school, as the different colleges of a university are 
under one control, and their policies and aims, though different, 
are yet harmonized into a common purpose of training for 
actual, not apparent, efficiency. 

To teach all subjects to all men in the same school — this is 
the great educational, social, and economic opportunity of 
America, where both collegiate and secondary education are 


in the hands of the general public and not of any sect, class, 
or faction. If we throw away this natural advantage, bought 
with blood and treasure, or if we neglect to make the most 
of it, we are guilty before the nation and the race of a breach 
of trust second only to the sin of treason. 

If we follow precedent blindly and transport that alien 
institution, the European trade school, and transplant it into 
the free soil of America simply because it is temporarily 
easier than to complete the system we have so splendidly 
begun, then sha.ll we commit an educational blunder that is 
inexcusable, and we shall richly deserve the anathemas that 
will be ours from generations yet unborn when they come to 
see the handicap we have laid upon them and the natural 
advantages we have sacrificed. 

I would have it so that the occupation of an American 
citizen may not be known by his dress, his manner, his speech, 
or his prejudices. If we can realize this ideal, it will be to 
our perpetual advantage, for it will insure not only our eco- 
nomic independence but our social comfort, our racial progress, 
and our national safety. If all this is to come about, we 
have some thinking to do now, for, as I have remarked else- 
where, more depends on what we do now, than can depend 
upon what we or others think and say and try to do twenty- 
five or fifty years from now. 

When the materials for American educational history are 
all gathered, and when time enough has elapsed for its various 
elements to assume their true proportions and perspective, 
it will be found that the most significant fact in the educa- 
tional movement of our day and time was the agitation that 
led up to the establishment of the state university. 

In a very large sense the founding of that unique institution 
of learning introduced two new and distinctive elements into 
our philosophy of education, both of which bid fair to be 
permanent, and to control even to the extent of revolutioniz- 
ing our educational ideals. 


The first of these fundamental doctrines was this — that 
no single class of men and no single class of subjects should 
dominate the educational policies of this people; and the 
second was that in the last analysis higher education is a 
public and not a personal matter. 

The state universities were established primarily to teach 
the branches of knowledge especially related to the industries 
of life; but their field has broadened in the doing, and their 
success has shown not only that learning may be useful with- 
out losing its educative value, but that all branches of learning 
are both useful and educative, and thereby worthy of being 
taught to somebody; that in the interest of the public it is 
the business of a school as of a university to teach more things 
than any single man may desire to know, and that it is the 
business of our institutions of learning to reflect in their 
laboratories and in their classrooms the life and essential 
activities of our civilization, at least in all its major 

The other new idea introduced through the state university 
is that education is first of all a public rather than a personal 
matter. Colleges had long been maintained for the con- 
venience of those who desired and were able to pay for an 
education, and those who took these courses did so with a 
view to bettering their condition personally. While the 
campaign for industrial education savored largely of personal 
needs and class equality in educational opportunity, yet in 
its working out we have discovered the deeper principle; 
viz. that the public is not well served until we educate freely 
for all useful activities, to the end that these activities shall 
be in the hands of educated men, under whom only will they 
develop and by which development only will our civilization 
as a whole prosper and progress. The ultimate purpose of a 
great system of education is and must be the development 
of human activities, both industrial and non-industrial, and 
our great demand upon the individuals that have enjoyed its 


advantages is service — service in something, somewhere; 
anything, anywhere. 

The great mass of human happiness will always arise out 
of doing well the common things of life, and the happiness of 
the individual will lie in that creative genius which does to-day 
the same thing it did yesterday, but does it better. All else 
is spice and seasoning to life, and as we cannot live on cakes 
and spices, so the enduring things will always be the useful 
things. There will be no educated aristocracy, for education 
will have a higher purpose than to give one man an advantage 
over another. 

Every man's life is a comedy, a tragedy, or a symphony, 
according as he is educated. It was a great thing when the 
common man first lifted up his head, looked about him and 
said, "I, too, will be educated." It is our business to see to 
it that that high resolve shall not destroy the race, but shall 
still further bless it. 


Whitman H. Jordan 

It would be an indication of ingratitude and inappreciation 
if I failed to acknowledge at this time the great honor of 
being elected to preside over your deliberations, an honor 
commensurate with the distinguished history and eminent 
usefulness of this association. Because it has been my good 
fortune to attend these meetings from their very beginning, 
in addressing you on this occasion I cannot be accused of 
speaking without knowledge and understanding if at first I 
refer in the spirit of congratulation to the benefits of this 
organization, both for those of us who have participated in 
its deliberations and for the institutions which it represents. 

Not the least important outcome of these assemblages are 
the personal relations that have been established. The hand 
clasp that has spanned a continent has not only made possible 
the formation of friendships that have greatly enriched our 
lives, but thereby has come a sympathetic touch of laborers 
in the same field so essential to unity of purpose and under- 
standing. We would all feel impoverished, personally and 
officially, if there were withdrawn from the sum of our life 
experiences the beneficent results of the intercourse that these 
meetings have afforded. 

Because we are friends as well as coworkers, we keenly 
feel the absence from our midst of those who have passed out 
of life's activities. Two of the best beloved of our long-time 
associates have entered into their final rest during the year 

' From Science, Dec. 8, 191 1. Reprinted by permission of the author 
and the publishers. 


that has passed. For many years these gatherings were 
favored by the gentle and refined presence of Matthew H. 
Buckham, who through a long life of activity as an educator 
exhibited the qualities of a scholar and a gentleman. May 
many rise up with a similar type of mind and character to 
mold the intellect and purposes of coming generations! We 
shall not forget the kindly spirit, the manly attributes, the 
singleness of purpose and the efficient service of Edward B. 
Voorhees, whose life and activities were on a plane so high 
that they presented an inspiring example of useful living. 
The number remaining of those who aided in founding and 
building these new educational agencies and who are still in 
active service is small, and these pioneers in an undeveloped 
field can but feel that they are transferring to "other men 
and other minds" the abundant fruit of their labors. 

Again, this association has been an active and most influ- 
ential agency in augmenting the resources of the institutions 
from which you come, and in developing and unifying their 
administrative and pedagogical methods. Through your 
accredited representatives an influence, national in scope, has 
been focused upon legislation. The enlarged financial support 
of the colleges and stations by the federal government could 
hardly have been secured without your united effort, directed 
along an authorized channel. You must also recognize very 
clearly that your annual discussions have been helpful, even 
essential, to the wise solution of administrative and educa- 
tional problems. Probably no other influence has been more 
potent in hastening and shaping the far-reaching readjustment 
that has been effected during the past few decades in the 
aims and methods of education, even in our secondary schools, 
than has the example and propaganda of the institutions 
arising from the first Morrill act, an influence to which your 
deliberations have served to give form and purpose. 

But the main reason for extending congratulations to you 
at this time is the status and beneficent results of the activities 


here represented. It would be easy to show the marvelous 
growth of the equipment and work of the land-grant colleges 
and agricultural experiment stations by the use of statistics 
that are almost startling in their proportions. I shall not 
resort to this method, however, for you know the facts, and 
besides, the prominent display of such large figures savors of 
showy parade or of vainglorious pride. It is enough to say 
that as a whole these wards of the nation and states are 
liberally equipped as to buildings, apparatus and funds, with 
a disposition on the part of the state governments to provide 
for increasing demands in these directions; students are not 
lacking, practice both in agriculture and engineering is giving 
respectful attention to your utterances; all this indeed because 
after nearly five decades of strenuous and almost heart- 
breaking struggle, whatever have been your mistakes, you 
have demonstrated your right to exist and thereby have won 
public confidence. The colleges and stations for whose up- 
building you have labored hard and loyally are now public 
utilities of great importance. They are an intelligent and 
directive force in the conservation of our resources, both 
social and material. In brief, these institutions have come 
to be a national asset of great and permanent value. 

But now that the hardships and discouragements incident 
to the establishment of the new and the untried are past and 
public confidence is won, now that you are reasonably well 
equipped and have the plastic minds of thousands of young 
men and women with which to work your will, the time has 
come to ask this question: Are these agencies, established and 
maintained by public funds, doing work of a kind and in a 
manner, under the conditions which have developed, that is 
calculated to most fully promote public welfare? No one 
will deny the assertion, I am sure, that the colleges were 
brought into existence, not for the purpose of providing a 
fraction of one per cent of our young men and women with 
a college education as an individual favor, but to be construe- 


tive and conserving factors in building and maintaining a 
strong nation. "The community has come to be convinced 
that education is the most competent means for the preserva- 
tion and enrichment of itself." With this end in view, is 
their work wisely planned and directed? 

A consideration of this comprehensive question requires 
that we bring to mind the directions along which the colleges 
and stations exert their influence in the exercise of their 
proper functions. These directions are mainly three: 

1. The public relations of educational agencies. 

2. The enlargement of the body of knowledge. 

3. The development of the vocational and social efficiency 
of the individual. 

It is my purpose to direct your attention chiefly to ques- 
tions involved in the college training of young men and 
women and the development of knowledge, but I ask your 
indulgence while I briefly refer to the first phase of influence 
which I have mentioned: 

As to the influence of the land-grant legislation and its 
results upon the public or governmental relations of educa- 
tional agencies, there can be no doubt that one of the conse- 
quences of this legislation is a strong movement toward the 
injection of federal aid, and the federal control necessarily, 
accompanying the expenditure of federal money, into second- 
ary education that so far has been exclusively supported and 
controlled by the states. The concrete expression of this 
movement is the introduction into congress of bills providing 
for the annual expenditure of vast sums of federal money in 
aid of normal schools and high schools in the various states. 
The policy proposed, if made effective, would have far- 
reaching results and for this reason it should be considered 
by this body in the spirit of wise statesmanship with reference 
to ultimate results rather than on the basis of any immediate 
financial advantage that might accrue to states or insti- 


It is well for us to keep in mind this law so well formulated 
by an educator of long experience, "that the efficiency of 
public education becomes the greater as the responsibility 
for carrying it forward is more directly and immediately 
felt." This admirable expression of a sound principle may 
be supplemented by the statement that an efficient system of 
public education cannot be imposed upon a community by 
aid from without, but must be gradually developed from 

Moreover, the broadcast precipitous distribution of public 
funds into localities where there does not exist the under- 
standing and preparation necessary to their wise expenditure 
is sure to result in lamentable waste. This would be a less 
regrettable result, however, than the influence of outside aid 
upon the spirit of initiative and self-dependence of the people, 
in the absence of which no progress is made in any enterprise 
whatever. The school-district system once widely in vogue 
in the eastern states, where each political unit was practically 
a pure democracy, while expensive, possessed certain ad- 
vantages of simplicity and directness because of the close 
relation of the citizen to the school. It was a system that 
gave large latitude to the individual development of boys 
and girls and was far removed from the mechanisms of highly 
concentrated systems that are inelastic and attempt to force 
square boys and girls through round holes. While the old 
system would not meet existing conditions, which, for reasons 
of economy, require a closer organization and a fuller concen- 
tration of authority, we should avoid, so far as possible, the 
dangers of bureaucracy in school administration that are by 
no means unreal. The injection of federal aid and authority 
into local educational affairs could but increase the dangers 
to educational freedom that always attend a highly centralized 
administration; and, above all other considerations in im- 
portance, such a policy is in the direction of removing the 
citizen too far from his direct responsibility, even through 


taxation, for the maintenance of local institutions. The 
exercise of citizenship, involving as it should a discussion of 
public matters and a sacrifice of time and money, has great 
training value and is an essential means of attaining the 
civic efi&ciency necessary to our form of government. Have 
we any reason to doubt that the states will provide for ad- 
vances in secondary education as rapidly as public sentiment, 
available pedagogical tools and opportunity will justify new 
movements? The progress already made in several states 
indicates that we have not. 

There are those who declare that the advance of national- 
ism, even in the control of education, is irresistible. It is 
encouraging to note that there are already signs of an action 
against this movement. Whatever comes to pass, we should 
be warned that any readjustment of the relations of govern- 
ment to education which does not fully preserve the autonomy 
of the states, and to a reasonable degree, of localities within 
the states, in the administration of educational matters, would 
be repugnant to the spirit of our institutions, and a revolu- 
tionary and dangerous innovation. 

I shall introduce the other phases of this discussion by the 
assertion that the chief and absorbing aim of the college, 
whether it be subsidized by private endowment or by public 
funds, should be the training of young men and women in a 
manner and to a degree that is consistent with well-recognized 
college standards. This statement, regarded by many as 
expressing an obvious truth, is given prominence in this 
connection not because there is any ambiguity in the language 
of the first Morrill act, which specifies very clearly the func- 
tion of the proposed institutions, but because in recent years 
these colleges are moving with accelerated momentum towards 
agricultural activities, costly in time and money, that have 
only a remote relation to the training of their students. I 
refer to public addresses, farmers' institutes, reading courses, 
demonstration work, railroad-train instruction, fair exhibits. 


secondary education and similar efforts that just now 
seem to be increasing rapidly in volume and in their 

Because many of these activities are more or less spectacular 
and are popular in character, they certainly attract attention 
and stimulate interest both in the agencies which participate 
in them and in the knowledge which it is sought to impart. 
For these reasons they are very useful. Doubtless many of 
us upon whom is laid the burden of administering the affairs 
of the colleges and stations and of securing the funds necessary 
for their development and maintenance regard extension work 
of various kinds not only as rendering a real public service, 
but as an efficient means of securing the public favor that 
insures generous support. It would be an interesting problem, 
psychological, ethical or otherwise, to determine in what 
proportions altruism and expediency enter into the motives 
that lie behind some of our agricultural propaganda. 

But, setting aside the question of motives, there is every 
justification for declaring that in so far as these popular 
efforts, and secondary education within the college, minimize 
academic efficiency through the diversion or limitation of 
funds, through their absorption of the time and energy 
of teachers or through their reaction upon the atmosphere of 
the college and its standards of instruction, in so far the 
lesser is usurping the greater. It is fully recognized that 
this assertion is antagonistic to the view that extension work 
is a function of the agricultural college coordinate with, and 
of equal importance with, the training of young men and 
women, to be maintained on an equal footing as to develop- 
ment and permanence, and it is so meant. It may further 
be said that because of the strong trend towards the popu- 
larization of agricultural knowledge both within the college 
and station and without, because of the sweep and strength 
of the agricultural extension movement which is taking such 
diverse forms and is so largely occupying the thought and 


energy of college and station leaders, there has never been a 
more critical period in the life of the colleges and stations or 
a time in which their efficiency for the accomplishment of 
their primal and fundamental purpose should be more care- 
fully guarded. 

The gravity of the situation is augmented by the fact that 
the agricultural and business interests of the country, alive 
to the value of our worth, are now proposing to us what we 
shall do and are urging upon us not only efforts of our own, 
but our active support of new efforts that are outside our 
province, but to which we are expected to sustain relations 
of advice and aid. These suggestions, which sometimes are 
almost equivalent to demands, are certainly made in the 
spirit of good will and helpfulness and are always worthy of 
our most respectful and careful consideration, but it is seri- 
ously to be doubted whether popular conceptions of the aims 
and methods of education and inquiry are a safe basis on 
which to establish the policy that shall dominate the work 
and influence of either the college or station. 

The chief reason that will here be advanced for directing 
the means and energy of the land-grant colleges along the 
higher ranges of educational effort is that under the conditions 
now existing these institutions will most fully promote public 
welfare by devoting their resources mainly to preparing men 
and women for leadership. Our social and vocational future 
is largely a matter of leadership. He is wildly Utopian who 
prophesies a day when all the people, or even a majority, 
will possess the knowledge and ability necessary to a wise 
discrimination in civic and economic affairs. It is equally 
fanciful to hope that any large proportion of actual farmers 
will ever be college-trained. Secondary education must serve 
the needs of the great majority of the occupants of the land. 
In the past the reaction of the agricultural college upon public 
welfare has been largely through men who have become in- 
vestigators, teachers, publicists and managers of large agricul- 


tural enterprises rather than through the distribution of 
practical farmers. 

What has been true of the past seems likely to be increas- 
ingly the experience of the future, and this fact in no way 
minimizes the value of the college in agricultural affairs. We 
ignore the teachings of all human experience if we look for 
the time when the destinies of the nation and the interests of 
agriculture or of any vocation will not be safeguarded by a 
small minority of citizens whose training has placed them 
outside the domination of dangerous sentiment and ignorant 
prejudice and who possess that power of discrimination 
derived from a knowledge of fundamental principles, without 
which we may not expect an intelligent and judicial con- 
sideration of either vocational or public questions. 

Not only are we greatly dependent upon wise leadership 
in both social and industrial affairs, but with the college lies 
the opportunity for its development. It is among the young 
men and women who seek the advantages of college instruc- 
tion that we find those who, because of ambition and capacity, 
constitute material with the largest possibilities of future 
usefulness. If the college fails in wisely molding these plastic 
minds it fails to fully occupy its one great opportunity, and 
if, on the other hand, the training given is inadequate or 
unbalanced or in any way less effective than is reasonably 
possible, both the receptive student and the public are de- 
frauded and suffer a loss that can scarcely be made good. 

Not all college graduates will be leaders, and not all leaders 
will possess a college degree; but it is a fact worthy of emphasis 
that the opportunity of the college is with the few and not 
with the many. Only a very small proportion (perhaps one 
or two in a hundred) of any generation of men and women 
will come into extended contact with college life, and these 
few will be the medium through which the college will render 
its largest and most effective service. The college can never 
come into efficient touch with the many as it does with the 


few. Whatever direct influence it secures over the general 
public lacks concentration and continuity; in fact, is diffuse 
and indefinite. Experience and observation show that a 
discouraging proportion of the minds reached by the attempts 
at popular instruction are either irresponsive or incapable, and 
the constructive value of these efforts is not to be compared 
with the life-long example and influence of those who are 
adequately trained for social and industrial leadership. 

There are those, doubtless, who believe that these institu- 
tions, supported by public funds, should stand in especially 
close relation to the people and that in order to do the work 
for which they were organized they should establish a low 
grade of admission, occupy a secondary place in our educa- 
tional scheme, adhere closely to instruction of an ultra- 
vocational character and engage extensively in agricultural 
propaganda, leaving to the older colleges and universities the 
severer training that is required in preparing men and women 
for the higher ranges of thought and activity. It is to be 
hoped that if we have in any measure adopted this policy we 
shall move away from it as rapidly as circumstances will per- 
mit. Such a policy is a practical assumption that there is no 
place in the agricultural field for the highest type of intellectual 
development and equipment, an assumption to which no 
well-informed student of social and economic conditions is 
likely to consent. If we also take into consideration the fact 
that the dignity and importance of agricultural opportunities 
receive little emphasis in those institutions where the main 
trend of thought and training is in other directions, we see 
sufficient reasons why the agricultural college should not 
relegate to other agencies its clearly indicated function — 
the production of the leadership that is needed for advancing 
the interests of the farm. 

And so, because of the unsatisfied demand for adequately 
trained teachers and investigators, because of the complex 
and difficult problems related to farm life that insistently 


face us, so many of which are unsolved, because the redirection 
and upbuilding of rural-life institutions need for their accom- 
plishment the guidance of leaders of a high order of ability, 
and because of the greatly increasing demand for service in 
these several directions which is only partially met, should we 
not insist that the material resources and the human knowl- 
edge at the command of the agricultural college and the plans 
and purposes there nourished should be directed toward 
sound inquiry and the training of young men and women for 
such service as will only be rendered by the few. Until we 
have means beyond what can reasonably be expended in 
increasing the efficiency of the colleges and stations, is it a 
wise policy to assign to other purposes funds that should be 
applied to securing and holding teachers and investigators of 
large attainments and success, those who are masters in their 
special fields? Agriculture needs more of such men and 
should be able to create for them a favorable environment 
for their work. 

And we now come to a question towards which this discus- 
sion has been aiming from the very first. What conditions 
should prevail in college instruction and what results should 
be kept in view in the training of young men and women for 
vocational and social leadership? 

In considering this question we may well begin by asking 
what qualities should be possessed by those who are to enter 
effectively into the service of agriculture and country life. 
There can be but one answer. They are the same funda- 
mentally that are essential to efficiency and well-rounded 
success in any calling or profession. If the teacher, the 
investigator, the statesman, the lawyer or the business man 
should possess integrity of thought and purpose, be able to 
reason keenly and base their reasoning on fundamental and 
well-grounded principles, so should those who are to assume 
responsibility and leadership in agricultural affairs. There 
is no place for loose thinking and the empiricisms of super- 


ficial knowledge in the consideration of the economic and 
social problems pertaining to the open country. It is hardly 
conceivable, either, that the college will succeed in developing 
in its students these necessary qualities by any educational 
methods essentially different from those commended by long 
experience. The pedagogical tools may differ from the old 
ones, but the ultimate result, if it is worth while, will be those 
attributes of mind and character that have long been recog- 
nized as the distinctive marks of strong men and women. 

As preliminary to a discussion of the conditions essential 
to the attainment of this result, we may safely establish 
certain premises on which to base any contentions that may 
follow. These premises, conceded on every hand, are the 
following: first, the subject-matter of the classroom should 
be concise and severely engage the student's mind; second, 
the instruction given, in whatever field, should represent the 
latest and best conclusions; third, this instruction, if it is to 
secure for the graduate an advantage over the merely practi- 
cal man, must give a well-grounded acquaintance with funda- 
mental facts and principles; fourth, the college should so 
react upon the young men and women that come within its 
influence as to develop in them high ideals of living. 

There are three factors that are most intimately related to 
these fundamental conditions, the teacher, the curriculum, 
and as an outgrowth of these two that somewhat intangible 
influence we call college atmosphere. 

What about the larger of these factors, the teacher? It 
should be required of him as one great essential that he be a 
man of scholarly spirit and attainments, and being such he 
should have opportunity for study and reflection. Is it not 
time to inquire whether we do not need a renaissance of the 
atmosphere of scholarship in our vocational colleges, an 
atmosphere that must first surround the teacher, there to be 
breathed in by the student? Because we have been exalting 
the man with a so-called practical touch, possessed of the 


ability to edify the farming public, through a pleasing way 
of discussing practical subjects or who hustles about doing 
things, is not our vision of the scholar as an essential factor 
in agricultural education and inquiry somewhat obscured, 
and if scholarship is to be discounted in favor of qualities 
that make for popularity, we may well be solicitous concern- 
ing the standards and effectiveness of agricultural instruction, 
a statement that is equally applicable to experiment stations 
as instruments of research. 

It is a gross error to permit a young man, or any man, to 
believe that success with the people in conducting agricultural 
propaganda, or the possession of superficially built and glibly 
expressed practical knowledge, unsupported by a sound scien- 
tific training, constitutes an adequate reason why he should 
be a member of a college faculty or a station staff. Success 
in the energy-consuming activities of the institute platform, 
the fair exhibit, the railroad train or the demonstration field 
is not an evidence of fitness for classroom or research work. 
We are guilty of a false estimate of values when we place a 
salary premium or any other premium on success in distribut- 
ing diluted information, however valuable this effort may be, 
as against the function and influence of the quiet and patient 

If the college is to nourish the moral character of a student, 
the teacher must be something more than a scholar. Char- 
acter will not be much influenced by directly aiming at such a 
result through the teaching of ethics. Much more potent 
will be the general tone or atmosphere of college halls, an 
atmosphere that emanates from the teacher. In his hands, 
teaching the sciences should not only promote scientific 
accuracy, but should nourish integrity of thought and purpose. 
All the exercises of the classroom should be pervaded by the 
ethical spirit. For these reasons the standards by which a 
faculty is selected should include something more than the 
possession of good character, and the necessary professional 


qualifications. The human attributes of the teacher are no 
less important. 

We may consider certain dangers to college instruction 
arising from extension work. This work on the part of the 
college teacher is a menace to his efficiency, because such 
activities not only use the physical energy that should be 
reserved for the classroom, but sooner or later they minimize 
or destroy the habit of study and the spirit of scholarship. 
The man who serves for any considerable part of his time as 
a purveyor of popular information is almost certain not to 
present to his students the latest and best knowledge in the 
best way, or to add much to the stock of knowledge. 

Another danger to the teacher from a diversion of his 
thought to extension work of the popular kind is that unless 
he possesses unusual self-discipline and control, he will carry 
to the classroom more or less of the loose and dilute phrase- 
ology of platform discussion and will to a greater or less extent 
depart from the concise and severe terminology so essential 
to the best training conditions. 

These are most unfortunate results. We should carefully 
guard and cherish the intellectual impulses and equipment of 
the teacher and the investigator, because they are the instru- 
ments whose edge must be fine if we are to be successful in 
rightly fashioning the minds and hearts of young men and 
women and in laying open the hidden recesses of truth. 

What has been said concerning the qualities of the teacher 
and the necessity for defending him against the invasion of 
outside duties applies with equal force to the investigator. 
The experiment stations here represented, founded as research 
agencies, have rendered splendid service to agriculture and 
are now firmly established in the confidence of the people. 
Nevertheless, we should not let the popularity of these insti- 
tutions cloud our vision or confuse our estimate of the real 
character of their work. They have mightily stirred the mass 
of agricultural knowledge, have conducted an extensive 


propaganda of existing information, have recast old facts 
and principles into new and profitable applications and have 
made some explorations of real value into the unknown, all 
of this to the great benefit of the farmer and his business. 
But the period through which we have been passing can justly 
be characterized as much more marked for its development 
of agencies and for its distribution of existing information 
than for its permanent additions to agricultural science. 

Moreover, leaving out of account the extensive dispersion 
of the time and energy of experiment station workers into the 
highways and byways of agricultural extension and consider- 
ing only our attempts at investigation, it may reasonably be 
doubted whether, broadly speaking, our efforts of inquiry 
have been conducted on a plane of spirit and method as high 
as that reached by the investigators of an earlier period. It 
may be that we have lived up to our present possibilities, 
doubtless we have, but whether we have or not, it is certain 
that unless the agencies constituted for research purposes can 
secure and maintain larger freedom in policy and more fully 
break loose from the restrictions of expediency imposed by 
semi-political relations and by misguided demands for popular 
efforts on the part of supposed investigators, we shall mostly 
continue to halt on the outskirts of great problems whose 
solution would render to agriculture the highest possible serv- 
ice. It is gratifying to be able to believe, however, that we 
are on the ascending plane in the stability and effectiveness 
of our research efforts. 

These suggestions concerning the limitation of the activities 
of the teacher and investigator are not intended to be argu- 
ments against the eminently useful efforts directed toward 
enlightening and stimulating the public mind. These efforts 
should continue, but it is fair to inquire whether we have not 
reached a point in the development of agricultural education 
and the demands made upon it, where the widely distributed 
popular instruction and secondary education of all forms 


should be maintained through agencies organized especially 
for these purposes, to which the college of agriculture should 
be coordinated in an advisory relation. Extension instruction 
and secondary education, if they are to work out the largest 
values, must be widely available and stimulate local initiative 
and activity. The college may well be a source of advice, 
and, when means are abundant through a corps of experts 
who shall be independent of other duties, it may aid in giving 
the needed accuracy and direction to the knowledge that it is 
sought to impart. But such aid should serve to stimulate 
and supplement the activities of other agencies and of the 
various communities that are to be benefited and should be 
so related to the colleges as in no way to hamper their academic 

Has not the time come when extension work should be 
carried on through the coordinated effort of the state depart- 
ment of education, the department or board of agriculture, 
the colleges, the normal and secondary schools, the churches, 
the grange, the railroads, the chambers of commerce and other 
business and commercial bodies, all of which should be asso- 
ciated in a board of direction and should contribute to a 
permanent and salaried faculty of instruction? There is 
every reason why the agricultural college should have an 
important place in the education of the public, but is there 
now any reason why it should attempt to compass the whole 
field or burden itself with the entire responsibility, financial 
or otherwise, for such efforts? 

There are those who will argue, I suspect, that the closer 
limitation of the work of the college faculty to the higher 
ranges of academic training would cause these institutions 
to lose their vital connection with public thought and needs. 
We certainly have no use for a fossilized center of learning in 
these days when the college must be regarded as a public 
servant, but to prevent its petrification it is not necessary 
that the farmers' picnic, the grange hall, the institute plat- 


form or the railroad train shall be frequented by the teacher 
and investigator. These excursions from college halls may- 
be replaced by expeditions for the careful study of social and 
economic conditions as they are seen on the farm and in the 
various business operations that are related to agriculture, 
with no loss, but rather a gain in the value of the service 

When an issue is raised concerning vocational curriculums 
we enter upon debatable ground. This audience needs not 
to be told that many a faculty session has been devoted to a 
vigorous, even heated, discussion over the relative propor- 
tions and distribution of studies in agricultural and engineer- 
ing courses, for there are present many who are in the midst 
of a contest that is still being waged. Only general considera- 
tions concerning this much-debated matter are in order at 
this time. 

A proper regard for a student's success in after life requires 
that at least three considerations shall enter into the use 
of his time and into the arrangement and subject-matter of 
the course of study he is expected to pursue. These are the 
development of personal power, the cultivation of both the 
sense and understanding of social and moral obligations, 
and preparation for vocational activity. 

The development of personal power is placed first because 
it is the all-comprehensive factor in determining individual- 
efficiency. It is not attained through the mere sorting of 
information or through familiarity with technical details, for 
knowledge and skill are but instruments for use. It consists 
essentially of the power of initiative, the ability to think 
clearly and to reason sanely and fundamentally, and, above 
all, it involves that mastery of self and of the raw materials 
of life that lies at the foundation of all individual success. 

Personal power is acquired through discipline, and so the 
disciplinary value of a course of study is a prime considera- 
tion. Have we not to some extent lost sight of the great and 


abiding truth that the intellectual and moral culture of man 
as a man is the only road to either a social or a vocational 
uplift? In our anxiety to demonstrate the value of these 
institutions to the material interests of the nation, have we 
not over-commercialized the instruction, even the atmosphere, 
of our vocational schools and colleges? The leaders in 
engineering education are beginning to say so, and is it not 
true of agriculture? We may well give heed to the words of 
a recent writer who thus comments on the educational influ- 
ence of the ancient guilds: 

The soul of this ideal education of the masses was the training of 
character. They had no illusions that the mere imparting of informa- 
tion would make people better, nor that the knowing of many things 
would make them more desirable citizens. In none of the higher walks 
of Ufe does it ever cease to be more the question how much of a man 
one is, than how much he knows of his special business. 

The cultivation of the sense and understanding of social 
and moral obligations is placed second because human rela- 
tions and the quality of human effort are determinative 
factors in the larger successes and satisfactions of life, whether 
we consider the individual or the social body. It is sound 
doctrine to declare that, in the last analysis, the defeats of 
individuals and of nations are moral defeats. Moreover, 
we now see very clearly that the critical problems which 
face agriculture are no less social than vocational. Our 
greater weakness is not in our bread-winning capacity, but in 
unsound business ethics and in bad social adjustments. 

And then, there is the larger relation of the educated man 
to national welfare. It has been said that the cure for the 
ills of democracy is more democracy. If more democracy is 
coming, and it seems to be, we shall sorely need the steadying 
influence of wise social leadership. The education of the 
masses is superficial. That keen observer, Mr. Bryce, has 
said that "it is sufficient to enable them to think they know 
something about the great problems of politics and insufficient 


to show them how little they know." Bishop Newman 
declares that "if a practical end must be assigned to a uni- 
versity course I say it is that of training good members of 
society. It is the art of social life and its end is fitness for 
the world." Another writer has observed that the land- 
grant colleges are ranked as an economic rather than a social 
force. If this accusation is just, these institutions should 
purge themselves of an unsound policy. We do violence to 
the highest interests of the individual and of society if we 
fail to cultivate in those over whom the mantle of a bacca- 
laureate degree is thrown a sense and comprehension of their 
obligations to society. 

It is a distorted training that emphasizes bread-winning 
capacity at the expense of fitness for social service. Our 
national welfare is already threatened by the divorcement 
of patriotic citizenship from industrial activity. 

Preparation for vocational activity is placed last, but not 
because the equipment of the mind with the facts of science 
and their applications to the art of agriculture is in any sense 
unimportant. The colleges of agriculture are dealing directly 
with the subject-matter that is related to the farmer's voca- 
tion, and they will violate their obligations and limit their 
usefulness if they do not continue to do so. 

In discussing the vocational and training value of courses 
of study in agriculture I shall simply be ranging myself on 
one side of this much debated question when I insist that 
these courses should present good pedagogical form and 
should lend themselves largely to training in the fundamental 
sciences and present the lowest feasible minimum of ultra- 
practical subjects. 

Remarks concerning pedagogical form may not now be 
pertinent to any existing situation. It has been said, however, 
that, in the past, agricultural subjects have been taken out 
of the normal pedagogical order and placed among the studies 
of the freshman year, or otherwise distributed illogically in 


the curriculum, simply that a student's attention shall be 
held to agriculture and more graduates in agriculture thereby 
secured. Doubtless such transgressions are not committed 
now, but if they are they look very much like an attempt to 
lasso young men and drag them at the heels of expediency. 
What justification is there for invading the intellectual rights 
of a student or imperiling his future success by giving him 
less than the best possible training; and how useless such an 
expedient! We shall not coerce a man's choice of a life work, 
however hard we may try to do so. Young men will continue 
to enter the door that they believe opens to them the largest 
opportunity, as they always have done and as they ought 
to do. 

It is the subject-matter that should engage the attention 
of the agricultural student concerning which we are likely to 
differ most widely in opinion. Those who are seeking for 
members of a faculty or station staff are bound to concede 
that, as a rule, altogether too many graduates are poorly 
trained for these positions, largely .because they are poorly 
fitted in the sciences fundamental to the line of work in which 
they offer themselves. 

For instance, candidates for positions in horticulture are 
generally obliged to confess a woeful lack of acquaintance 
with physiological botany. Those supposed to be specially 
trained in animal nutrition rarely have the necessary knowl- 
edge of organic and biological chemistry, and graduates in 
agronomy are likely to be more familiar with superficial facts 
than with soil chemistry and the science of plant nutrition. 
Judging cattle, corn and fruit; grafting trees, visiting orchards, 
calculating rations are exercises of small training value, even 
small vocational value, compared with severe attention to 
the processes of nature that underHe agricultural i)ractice of 
all kinds. If many of the colleges expect to give their gradu- 
ates a good start on the road to success as teachers and station 
workers, they should seriously consider a curriculum that 


deals more largely with the fundamental sciences and less 
with agricultural technics as a superstructure. 

And should not the same policy be followed with those 
who are to enter practical agriculture? A fact of fundamental 
importance in this connection is that the farmer is equipped 
for success in farm practice not so much through expert 
handicraft as through a knowledge of conditions that determine 
the successful growth of plants and animals; in other words, 
an acquaintance with nature's processes. The mechanical 
details of agriculture are comparatively simple, but the 
control of nature's resources is complex and difficult. With 
great respect for the opinions of those who hold opposite 
views, I am constrained to express the conviction that the 
man is best prepared for the life of a farmer who knows the 
most about the fundamental sciences and their relation to 
his vocation, and for this reason I can but regard the time as 
comparatively inefficiently spent that is devoted in college to 
observations and exercises of an ultra practical character, or 
to gaining information that is easily acquired from the ordi- 
nary experiences of practical life. This doctrine may be 
reactionary but it is in accordance with movements now in 
progress in other vocational schools. We have fallen into the 
error, it is to be feared, of regarding the student mind as a 
storage tank for useful facts rather than as an instrument to 
be fashioned into soundness and efficiency. We must never 
forget that the farmer is comprehended in the man. And 
when we realize that many of the graduates of these institu- 
tions will exert a dominating influence upon the mental and 
moral development of young men and women, we see a most 
important reason why their education should not be confined 
to the narrow line of technical training. And above all, as 
has been urged, these graduates are to be members of society. 

After all, what are the supreme objects of education? It 
has been reported, though I do not credit the statement, that 
a member of an agricultural college faculty once declared that 


the business of his institution was to bring about the produc- 
tion of more hogs at greater profit. If this remark was made, 
what a spectacle it pictures! It places the hog at the pinnacle 
of educational aspiration with man as a lesser figure. In 
sharp contrast to this gross conception of educational ideals 
stand the sentiments of great minds who have seen broadly 
and clearly the larger issues of life. 

Hill says of education that it should "quicken a man's 
mental perceptions, form in him the habit of prompt and 
accurate judgment; lead to delicacy and depth in every 
right feeling and make him inflexible in his conscientious and 
steadfast devotion to all his duties." Milton wrote that 
"■ the main skill and groundwork of education will be to temper 
the pupils with such lectures and explanations as will draw 
them into willing obedience, influenced with the study of 
learning and the admiration of virtue, stirred up with high 
hopes of living to be brave men and worthy patriots." 

Listen to Mill: 

The moral or religious influence which a university can exercise con- 
sists less in any express teaching than in the pervading tone of the 
place. Whatever it teaches it should teach as penetrated by a sense of 
duty; it should present all knowledge as chiefly a means of worthiness in 
life, given for the double purpose of making each of us practically useful 
to our fellow creatures and of elevating the character of the species 


Thomas Henry Huxley 

The business which the South London Working Men's 
College has undertaken is a great work; indeed, I might say, 
that Education, with which that college proposes to grapple, 
is the greatest work of all those which lie ready to a man's 
hand just at present. 

And, at length, this fact is becoming generally recognized. 
You cannot go anywhere without hearing a buzz of more or 
less confused and contradictory talk on this subject — nor 
can you fail to notice that, in one point at any rate, there is 
a very decided advance upon like discussions in former days. 
Nobody outside the agricultural interest now dares to say 
that education is a bad thing. If any representative of the 
once large and powerful party, which, in former days, pro- 
claimed this opinion, still exists in a semi-fossil state, he keeps 
his thoughts to himself. In fact, there is a chorus of voices, 
almost distressing in their harmony, raised in favour of the 
doctrine that education is the great panacea for human troubles, 
and that, if the country is not shortly to go to the dogs, every- 
body must be educated. 

The politicians tell us, "you must educate the masses 
because they are going to be masters." The clergy join in 
the cry for education, for they affirm that the people are drift- 
ing away from church and chapel into the broadest infidelity. 
The manufacturers and the capitalists swell the chorus lustily. 

^ This essay, which was written in 1868, was influential in stimulating 
the movement which resulted in shifting the emphasis from classical to 
scientific studies. 


They declare that ignorance makes bad workmen; that Eng- 
land will soon be unable to turn out cotton goods, or steam 
engines, cheaper than other people; and then, Ichabod! 
Ichabod! the glory will be departed from us. And a few voices 
are lifted up in favour of the doctrine that the masses should 
be educated because they are men and women with unlimited 
capacities of being, doing, and suffering, and that it is 
as true now, as ever it was, that the people perish for lack 
of knowledge. 

These members of the minority, with whom I confess I 
have a good deal of sympathy, are doubtful whether any of the 
other reasons urged in favour of the education of the people 
are of much value — whether, indeed, some of them are based 
upon either wise or noble grounds of action. They question 
if it be wise to tell people that you will do for them, out of 
fear of their power, what you have left undone, so long as 
your only motive was compassion for their weakness and their 
sorrows. And if ignorance of everything which it is needful 
a ruler should know is Hkely to do so much harm in the gov- 
erning classes of the future, why is it, they ask reasonably 
enough, that such ignorance in the governing classes of the 
past has not been viewed with equal horror? 

Compare the average artisan and the average country 
squire, and it may be doubted if you will find a pin to choose 
between the two in point of ignorance, class feeling, or preju- 
dice. It is true that the ignorance is of a different sort — 
that the class feeling is in favour of a different class — and 
that the prejudice has a distinct savour of wrong-headedness 
in each case — but it is questionable if the one is either a bit 
better, or a bit worse, than the other. The old protectionist 
theory is the doctrine of trades unions as applied by the 
squires, and the modern trades unionism is the doctrine of 
the squires applied by the artisans. Why should we be worse 
off under one regime than under the other? 

Again, this sceptical minority asks the clergy to think 


whether it is really want of education which keeps the masses 
away from their ministrations — whether the most completely 
educated men are not as open to reproach on this score as 
the workmen; and whether, perchance, this may not indi- 
cate that it is not education which lies at the bottom of the 

Once more, these people, whom there is no pleasing, venture 
to doubt whether the glory, which rests upon being able to 
undersell all the rest of the world, is a very safe kind of glory — 
whether we may not purchase it too dear; especially if we 
allow education which ought to be directed to the making of 
men, to be diverted into a process of manufacturing human 
tools, wonderfully adroit in the exercise of some technical 
industry, but good for nothing else. 

And, finally, these people inquire whether it is the masses 
alone who need a reformed and improved education. They 
ask whether the richest of our public schools might not well 
be made to supply knowledge, as well as gentlemanly habits, 
a strong class feeling, and eminent proficiency in cricket. 
They seem to think that the noble foundations of our old 
universities are hardly fulfilling their functions in their present 
posture of half-clerical seminaries, half racecourses, where 
men are trained to win a senior wranglership, or a double 
first, as horses are trained to win a cup, with as little reference 
to the needs of after-life in the case of the man as in that of 
the racer. And while as zealous for education as the rest, 
they affirm that if the education of the richer classes were 
such as to fit them to be the leaders and the governors of the 
poorer; and if the education of the poorer classes were such 
as to enable them to appreciate really wise guidance and good 
governance, the politicians need not fear mob-law, nor the 
clergy lament their want of flocks, nor the capitalist prog- 
nosticate the annihilation of the prosperity of the country. 

Such is the diversity of opinion upon the why and the 
wherefore of education. And my hearers will be prepared to 


expect that the practical recommendations which are put 
forward are not less discordant. There is a loud cry for com- 
pulsory education. We English, in spite of constant experi- 
ence to the contrary, preserve a touching faith in the efficacy 
of acts of parliament; and I believe we should have compulsory 
education in the course of next session if there were the least 
probability that half a dozen leading statesmen of different 
parties would agree what that education should be. 

Some hold that education without theology is worse than 
none. Others maintain, quite as strongly, that education 
with theology is in the same predicament. But this is certain, 
that those who hold the first opinion can by no means agree 
what theology should be taught; and that those who main- 
tain the second are in a small minority. 

At any rate "make people learn to read, write, and cipher," 
say a great many; and the advice is undoubtedly sensible 
as far as it goes. But, as has happened to me in former 
days, those who, in despair of getting anything better, advocate 
this measure, are met with the objection that it is very like 
making a child practise the use of a knife, fork, and spoon, 
without giving it a particle of meat. I really don't know 
what reply is to be made to such an objection. 

But it would be unprofitable to spend more time in dis- 
entangling, or rather in showing up the knots in, the ravelled 
skeins of our neighbours. Much more to the purpose is it to 
ask if we possess any clue of our own which may guide us 
among these entanglements. And by way of a beginning, 
let us ask ourselves — What is education? Above all things, 
what is our ideal of a thoroughly liberal education? — of that 
education which, if we could begin life again, we would give 
ourselves — of that education which, if we could mould the 
fates to our own will, we would give our children? Well, 
I know not what may be your conceptions upon this matter, 
but I will tell you mine, and I hope I shall find that our views 
are not very discrepant. 


Suppose it were perfectly certain that the life and fortune 
of every one of us would, one day or other, depend upon his 
winning or losing a game at chess. Don't you think that we 
should all consider it to be a primary duty to learn at least 
the names and the moves of the pieces; to have a notion of 
a gambit, and a keen eye for all the means of giving and getting 
out of check? Do you not think that we should look with 
a disapprobation amounting to scorn, upon the father who 
allowed his son, or the state which allowed its members, to 
grow up without knowing a pawn from a knight? 

Yet, it is a very plain and elementary truth that the life, 
the fortune, and the happiness of every one of us, and, more 
or less, of those who are connected with us, do depend upon our 
knowing something of the rules of a game infinitely more 
difiicult and complicated than chess. It is a game which has 
been played for untold ages, every man and woman of us 
being one of the two players in a game of his or her own. The 
chess-board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the 
universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of 
nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We 
know that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But 
also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, 
or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. To the man 
who plays well, the highest stakes are paid, with that sort of 
overflowing generosity with which the strong shows delight 
in strength. And one who plays ill is checkmated — without 
haste, but without remorse. 

My metaphor will remind some of you of the famous picture 
in which Retzsch has depicted Satan playing at chess with 
man for his soul. Substitute for the mocking fiend in that 
picture a calm, strong angel who is playing for love, as we say, 
and would rather lose than win — and I should accept it as 
an image of human life. 

Well, what I mean by Education is learning the rules of 
this mighty game. In other words, education is the instruc- 


tion of the intellect in the laws of nature, under which name I 
include not merely things and their forces, but men and their 
ways; and the fashioning of the affections and of the will 
into an earnest and loving desire to move in harmony with 
those laws. For me, education means neither more nor less 
than this. Anything which professes to call itself education 
must be tried by this standard, and if it fails to stand the test, 
I will not call it education, whatever may be the force of 
authority or of numbers upon the other side. 

It is important to remember that, in strictness, there is 
no such thing as an uneducated man. Take an extreme case. 
Suppose that an adult man, in the full vigour of his faculties, 
could be suddenly placed in the world, as Adam is said to have 
been, and then left to do as he best might. How long would 
he be left uneducated? Not five minutes. Nature would 
begin to teach him, through the eye, the ear, the touch, the 
properties of objects. Pain and pleasure would be at his elbow 
telling him to do this and avoid that; and by slow degrees the 
man would receive an education which, if narrow, would be 
thorough, real, and adequate to his circumstances, though 
there would be no extras and very few accomplishments. 

And if to this soUtary man entered a second Adam, or, 
better still, an Eve, a new and greater world, that of social 
and moral phenomena, would be revealed. Joys and woes, 
compared with which all others might seem but faint shadows, 
would spring from the new relations. Happiness and sorrow 
would take the place of the coarser monitors, pleasure and 
pain; but conduct would still be shaped by the observation 
of the natural consequences of actions; or, in other words, 
by the laws of the nature of man. 

To every one of us the world was once as fresh and new as 
to Adam. And then, long before we were susceptible of any 
other mode of instruction, nature took us in hand, and every 
minute of waking life brought, its educational influence, 
shaping our actions into rough accordance with nature's 


laws, so that we might not be ended untimely by too gross 
disobedience. Nor should I speak of this process of education 
as past, for any one, be he as old as he may. For every man 
the world is as fresh as it was at the first day, and as full of 
untold novelties for him who has the eyes to see them. And 
nature is still continuing her patient education of us in that 
great university, the universe, of which we are all members 
— nature having no Test-Acts. 

Those who take honours in nature's university, who learn 
the laws which govern men and things and obey them, are 
the really great and successful men in this world. The great 
mass of mankind are the ''Poll," who pick up just enough to 
get through without much discredit. Those who won't 
learn at all are plucked; and then you can't come up again. 
Nature's pluck means extermination. 

Thus the question of compulsory education is settled so 
far as nature is concerned. Her bill on that question was 
framed and passed long ago. But, like all compulsory legis- 
lation, that of nature is harsh and wasteful in its operation. 
Ignorance is visited as sharply as wilful disobedience — in- 
capacity meets with the same punishment as crime. Nature's 
discipline is not even a word and a blow, and the blow first; 
but the blow without the word. It is left to you to find out 
why your ears are boxed. 

The object of what we commonly call education — that 
education in which man intervenes and which I shall dis- 
tinguish as artificial education — is to make good these defects 
in nature's methods; to prepare the child to receive nature's 
education, neither incapably nor ignorantly, nor with wilful 
disobedience; and to understand the preliminary symptoms 
of her pleasure, without waiting for the box on the ear. In 
short, all artificial education ought to be an anticipation of 
natural education. And a liberal education is an artificial 
education — which has not only prepared a man to escape the 
great evils of disobedience to natural laws, but has trained 


him to appreciate and to seize upon the rewards which nature 
scatters with as free a hand as her penalties. 

That man, I think, has had a Hberal education who has been 
so trained in youth that his body is the ready servant of his 
will, and does with ease and pleasure all the work that, as a 
mechanism, it is capable of; whose intellect is a clear, cold, 
logic engine, with all its parts of equal strength, and in smooth 
working order; ready, like a steam engine, to be turned to 
any kind of work, and spin the gossamers as well as forge the 
anchors of the mind; whose mind is stored with a knowledge 
of the great and fundamental truths of nature and of the 
laws of her operations; one who, no stunted ascetic, is full 
of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to come to 
heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience; 
who has learned to love all beauty, whether of nature or of 
art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself. 

Such an one and no other, I conceive, has had a liberal edu- 
cation; for he is, as completely as a man can be, in harmony 
with nature. He will make the best of her, and she of him. 
They will get on together rarely; she as his ever-beneficent 
mother; he as her mouthpiece, her conscious self, her minister 
and interpreter. 

Where is such an education as this to be had? Where is 
there any approximation to it? Has any one tried to found 
such an education? Looking over the length and breadth 
of these islands, I am afraid that all these questions must 
receive a negative answer. Consider our primary schools 
and what is taught in them. A child learns: — 

1. To read, write, and cipher, more or less well; but in 
a very large proportion of cases not so well as to take pleasure 
in reading, or to be able to write the commonest letter properly. 

2. A quantity of dogmatic theology, of which the child, 
nine times out of ten, understands next to nothing. 

3. Mixed up with this, so as to seem to stand or fall with 
it, a few of the broadest and simplest principles of morality. 


This is, to my mind, much as if a man of science should make 
the story of the fall of the apple in Newton's garden an inte- 
gral part of the doctrine of gravitation, and teach it as of 
equal authority with the law of the inverse squares. 

4. A good deal of Jewish history and Syrian geography, 
and perhaps a little something about English history and the 
geography of the child's own country. But I doubt if there 
is a primary school in England in which hangs a map of the 
hundred in which the village lies, so that the children may be 
practically taught by it what a map means. 

5. A certain amount of regularity, attentive obedience, 
respect for others: obtained by fear, if the master be in- 
competent or foolish; by love and reverence, if he be wise. 

So far as this school course embraces a training in the theory 
and practice of obedience to the moral laws of nature, I gladly 
admit, not only that it contains a valuable educational ele- 
ment, but that, so far, it deals with the most valuable and 
important part of all education. Yet, contrast what is done 
in this direction with what might be done; with the time given 
to matters of comparatively no importance; with the absence 
of any attention to things of the highest moment; and one 
is tempted to think of Falstaff's bill and " the halfpenny worth 
of bread to all that quantity of sack." 

Let us consider what a child thus "educated" knows, and 
what it does not know. Begin with the most important topic 
of all — morality, as the guide of conduct. The child knows 
well enough that some acts meet with approbation and some 
with disapprobation. But it has never heard that there lies 
in the nature of things a reason for every moral law, as cogent 
and as well defined as that which underlies every physical 
law; that stealing and lying are just as certain to be followed 
by evil consequences as putting your hand in the fire, or jump- 
ing out of a garret window. Again, though the scholar may 
have been made acquainted, in dogmatic fashion, with the 
broad laws of morality, he has had no training in the applica- 


tion of those laws to the difficult problems which result from 
the complex conditions of modern civilization. Would it 
not be very hard to expect any one to solve a problem in conic 
sections who had merely been taught the axioms and defini- 
tions of mathematical science? 

A workman has to bear hard labour, and perhaps privation, 
while he sees others rolling in wealth, and feeding their dogs 
with what would keep his children from starvation. Would 
it not be well to have helped that man to calm the natural 
promptings of discontent by showing him, in his youth, the 
necessary connection of the moral law which prohibits stealing 
with the stability of society — by proving to him, once for 
all, that it is better for his own people, better for himself, 
better for future generations, that he should starve than 
steal? If you have no foundation of knowledge or habit 
of thought to work upon, what chance have you of persuading 
a hungry man that a capitalist is not a thief "with a circum- 
bendibus?" And if he honestly believes that, of what avail 
is it to quote the commandment against stealing when he 
proposes to make the capitalist disgorge? 

Again, the child learns absolutely nothing of the history 
or the political organization of his own country. His general 
impression is, that everything of much importance happened 
a very long while ago; and that the Queen and the gentle- 
folks govern the country much after the fashion of King 
David and the elders and nobles of Israel — his sole models. 
Will you give a man with this much information a vote? In 
easy times he sells it for a pot of beer. Why should he not? 
It is of about as much use to him as a chignon, and he knows 
as much what to do with it, for any other purpose. In bad 
times, on the contrary, he applies his simple theory of govern- 
ment, and believes that his rulers are the cause of his sufferings 
— a belief which sometimes bears remarkable practical fruits. 

Least of all, does the child gather from this primary "edu- 
cation" of ours a conception of the laws of the physical world, 


or of the relations of cause and effect therein. And this is 
the more to be lamented, as the poor are especially exposed 
to physical evils, and are more interested in removing them 
than any other class of the community. If any one is con- 
cerned in knowing the ordinary laws of mechanics one would 
think it is the hand-labourer, whose daily toil lies among 
levers and pulleys; or among the other implements of artisan 
work. And if any one is interested in the laws of health, it 
is the poor man, whose strength is wasted by ill-prepared food, 
whose health is sapped by bad ventilation and bad drainage, 
and half of whose children are massacred by disorders which 
might be prevented. Not only does our present primary 
education carefully abstain from hinting to the poor man 
that some of his greatest evils are traceable to mere physical 
agencies, which could be removed by energy, patience, and 
frugality; but it does worse — it renders him, so far as it 
can, deaf to those who could help him, and tries to sub- 
stitute an Oriental submission to what is falsely declared to be 
the will of God, for his natural tendency to strive after a better 
condition. ■ 

What wonder then if very recently an appeal has been made 
to statistics for the profoundly foolish purpose of showing that 
education is of no good — that it diminishes neither misery 
nor crime among the masses of mankind? I reply, why should 
the thing which has been called education do either the one 
or the other? If I am a knave or a fool, teaching me to read 
and write won't make me less of either one or the other — 
unless somebody shows me how to put my reading and writing 
to wise and good purposes. 

Suppose any one were to argue that medicine is of no use, 
because it could be proved statistically that the percentage 
of deaths was just the same among people who have been 
taught how to open a medicine chest and among those who 
did not so much as know the key by sight. The argument 
is absurd; but it is not more preposterous than that against 


which I am contending. The only medicine for suffering, 
crime, and all the other woes of mankind, is wisdom. Teach 
a man to read and write, and you have put into his hands the 
great keys of the wisdom box. But it is quite another matter 
whether he ever opens the box or not. And he is as likely 
to poison as to cure himself, if, without guidance, he swallows 
the first drug that comes to hand. In these times a man may 
as well be purblind, as unable to read — lame, as unable to 
write. But I protest that if I thought the alternative were a 
necessary one, I would rather that the children of the poor 
should grow up ignorant of both these mighty arts, than that 
they should remain ignorant of that knowledge to which these 
arts are means. 

It may be said that all these animadversions may apply 
to primary schools, but that the higher schools, at any rate, 
must be allowed to give a liberal education. In fact, they 
professedly sacrifice everything else to this object. 

Let us inquire into this matter. What do the higher schools, 
those to which the great middle class of the country sends 
its children, teach, over and above the instruction given in 
the primary schools? There is a little more reading and 
writing of English. But, for all that, every one knows that 
it is a rare thing to find a boy of the middle or upper classes 
who can read aloud decently, or who can put his thoughts on 
paper in clear and grammatical (to say nothing of good or 
elegant) language. The "ciphering" of the lower schools 
expands into elementary mathematics in the higher; into arith- 
metic, with a little algebra, a little Euclid. But I doubt if 
one boy in five hundred has ever heard the explanation of a 
rule of arithmetic, or knows his EucHd otherwise than by 

Of theology, the middle-class schoolboy gets rather less 
than poorer children, less absolutely and less relatively, 
because there are so many other claims upon his attention. 
I venture to say that, in the great majority of cases, his ideas 


on this subject when he leaves school are of the most shadowy 
and vague description, and associated with painful impres- 
sions of the weary hours spent in learning collects and cate- 
chism by heart. 

Modern geography, modern history, modern literature; 
the English language as a language; the whole circle of the 
sciences, physical, moral, and social, are even more completely 
ignored in the higher than in the lower schools. Up till 
within a few years back, a boy might have passed through any 
one of the great public schools with the greatest distinction 
and credit, and might never so much as have heard of one of 
the subjects I have just mentioned. He might never have 
heard that the earth goes round the sun; that England under- 
went a great revolution in 1688, and France another in 1789; 
that there once lived certain notable men called Chaucer, 
Shakespeare, Milton, Voltaire, Goethe, Schiller. The first 
might be a German and the last an Englishman for anything 
he could tell you to the contrary. And as for Science, the only 
idea the word would suggest to his mind would be dexterity 
in boxing. 

I have said that this was the state of things a few years 
back, for the sake of the few righteous who are to be found 
among the educational cities of the plain. But I would not 
have you too sanguine about the result, if you sound the minds 
of the existing generation of public school-boys on such topics 
as those I have mentioned. 

Now let us pause to consider this wonderful state of affairs; 
for the time will come when Englishmen will quote it as the 
stock example of the stolid stupidity of their ancestors in the 
nineteenth century. The most thoroughly commercial people, 
the greatest voluntary wanderers and colonists the world has 
ever seen, are precisely the middle classes of this country. 
If there be a people which has been busy making history on 
the great scale for the last three hundred years — and the most 
profoundly interesting history — history which, if it happened 


to be that of Greece or Rome, we should study with avidity 
— it is the Enghsh. If there be a people which, during the 
same period, has developed a remarkable literature, it is our 
own. If there be a nation whose prosperity depends abso- 
lutely and wholly upon their mastery over the forces of nature, 
upon their intelligent apprehension of, and obedience to the 
laws of the creation and distribution of wealth, and of the 
stable equilibrium of the forces of society, it is precisely this 
nation. And yet this is what these wonderful people tell 
their sons: — "x^t the cost of from one to two thousand pounds 
of our hard-earned money we devote twelve of the most 
precious years of your lives to school. There you shall toil, 
or be supposed to toil; but there you shall not learn one single 
thing of all those you will most want to know directly you 
leave school and enter upon the practical business of life. 
You will in all probabiHty go into business, but you shall not 
know where or how any article of commerce is produced, 
or the difference between an export or an import, or the mean- 
ing of the word 'capital.' You will very likely settle in a 
colony, but you shall not know whether Tasmania is part of 
New South Wales, or vice versa. 

"Very probably you may become a manufacturer, but you 
shall not be provided with the means of understanding the 
working of one of your own steam-engines, or the nature of 
the raw products you employ; and when you are asked to buy 
a patent you shall not have the slightest means of judging 
whether the inventor is an impostor who is contravening the 
elementary principles of science, or a man who will make 
you as rich as Croesus. 

" You will very likely get into the House of Commons. You 
will have to take your share in making laws which may prove 
a blessing or a curse to millions of men. But you shall not 
hear one word respecting the political organization of your 
country; the meaning of the controversy between freetraders 
and protectionists shall never have been mentioned to you; 


you shall not so much as know that there are such things as 
economical laws. 

"The mental power which will be of most importance in your 
daily life will be the power of seeing things as they are without 
regard to authority; and of drawing accurate general conclu- 
sions from particular facts. But at school and at college you 
shall know of no source of truth but authority; nor exercise 
your reasoning faculty upon anything but deduction from 
that which is laid down by authority. 

"You will have to weary your soul with work, and many a 
time eat your bread in sorrow and in bitterness, and you 
shall not have learned to take refuge in the great source of 
pleasure without alloy, the serene resting-place for worn 
human nature — the world of art." 

Said I not rightly that we are a wonderful people? I am 
quite prepared to allow, that education entirely devoted to 
these omitted subjects might not be a completely liberal 
education. But is an education which ignores them all a 
liberal education?' Nay, is it too much to say that the edu- 
cation which should embrace these subjects and no others 
would be a real education, though an incomplete one; while 
an education which omits them is really not an education at 
all, but a more or less useful course of intellectual gymnastics? 

For what does the middle-class school put in the place of 
all these things which are left out? It substitutes what is 
usually comprised under the compendious title of the "classics" 
— that is to say, the languages, the literature, and the history 
of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the geography of so 
much of the world as was known to these two great nations 
of antiquity. Now, do not expect me to depreciate the earnest 
and enlightened pursuit of classical learning. I have not the 
least desire to speak ill of such occupations, nor any sympathy 
with those who run them down. On the contrary, if my oppor- 
tunities had lain in that direction, there is no investigation 


into which I could have thrown myself with greater delight 
than that of antiquity. 

What science can present greater attractions than philology? 
How can a lover of literary excellence fail to rejoice in the 
ancient masterpieces? And with what consistency could I, 
whose business lies so much in the attempt to decipher the 
past, and to build up intelligible forms out of the scattered 
fragments of long-extinct beings, fail to take a sympathetic, 
though an unlearned, interest in the labours of a Niebuhr, a 
Gibbon, or a Grote? Classical history is a great section of 
the palaeontology of man; and I have the same double respect 
for it as for other kinds of palaeontology — that is to say, a 
respect for the facts which it estabHshes as for all facts, and 
a still greater respect for it as a preparation for the discovery 
of a law of progress. 

But if the classics were taught as they might be taught — 
if boys and girls were instructed in Greek and Latin, not 
merely as languages, but as illustrations of philological science; 
if a vivid picture of life on the shores of the Mediterranean 
two thousand years ago were imprinted on the minds of 
scholars; if ancient history were taught, not as a weary series 
of feuds and fights, but traced to its causes in such men placed 
under such conditions; if, lastly, the study of the classical 
books were followed in such a manner as to impress boys with 
their beauties, and with the grand simplicity of their statement 
of the everlasting problems of human life, instead of with their 
verbal and grammatical peculiarities; I still think it as little 
proper that they should form the basis of a liberal education 
for our contemporaries, as I should think it fitting to make that 
sort of palaeontology with which I am familiar the back-bone 
of modern education. 

It is wonderful how close a parallel to classical training 
could be made out of that palaeontology to which I refer. In 
the first place I could get up an osteological primer so arid, so 
pedantic in its terminology, so altogether distasteful to the 


youthful mind, as to beat the recent famous production of the 
head-masters out of the field in all these excellences. Next, 
I could exercise my boys upon easy fossils, and bring out all 
their powers of memory and all their ingenuity in the appli- 
cation of my osteogrammatical rules to the interpretation, or 
construing, of those fragments. To those who had reached 
the higher classes, I might supply odd bones to be built up 
into animals, giving great honour and reward to him who suc- 
ceeded in fabricating monsters most entirely in accordance 
with the rules. That would answer to verse-making and 
essay-writing in the dead languages. 

To be sure, if a great comparative anatomist were to look 
at these fabrications he might shake his head, or laugh. But 
what then? Would such a catastrophe destroy the parallel? 
What, think you, would Cicero, or Horace, say to the produc- 
tion of the best sixth form going? And would not Terence 
stop his ears and run out if he could be present at an English 
performance of his own plays? Would Hamlet, in the mouths 
of a set of French' actors, who should insist on pronouncing 
English after the fashion of their own tongue, be more hide- 
ously ridiculous? 

But it will be said that I am forgetting the beauty, and the 
human interest, which appertain to classical studies. To 
this I reply that it is only a very strong man who can appre- 
ciate the charms of a landscape as he is toiling up a steep 
hill, along a bad road. What with short-windedness, stones, 
ruts, and a pervading sense of the wisdom of rest and be thank- 
ful, most of us have little enough sense of the beautiful under 
these circumstances. The ordinary school-boy is precisely 
in this case. He finds Parnassus uncommonly steep, and there 
is no chance of his having much time or inclination to look 
about him till he gets to the top. And nine times out of ten 
he does not get to the top. 

But if this be a fair picture of the results of classical teach- 
ing at its best — and I gather from those who have authority 


.to speak on such matters that it is so — what is to be said of 
classical teaching at its worst, or in other words, of the classics 
of our ordinary middle-class schools? ^ I will tell you. It 
means getting up endless forms and rules by heart. It means 
turning Latin and Greek into English, for the mere sake of 
being able to do it, and without the smallest regard to the 
worth, or worthlessness, of the author read. It means the 
learning of innumerable, not always decent, fables in such a 
shape that the meaning they once had is dried up into utter 
trash; and the only impression left upon a boy's mind is, 
that the people who beheved such things must have been 
the greatest idiots the world ever saw. And it means, finally, 
that after a dozen years spent at this kind of work, the sufferer 
shall be incompetent to interpret a passage in an author he 
has not already got up; that he shall loathe the sight of a 
Greek or Latin book; and that he shall never open, or 
think of, a classical writer again, until, wonderful to re- 
late, he insists upon submitting his sons to the same 

These be your gods, O Israel! For the sake of this net 
result (and respectabihty) the British father denies his chil- 
dren all the knowledge they might turn to account in life, 
not merely for the achievement of vulgar success, but for 
guidance in the great crises of human existence. This is 
the stone he offers to those whom he is bound by the strongest 
and tenderest ties to feed with bread. 

If primary and secondary education are in this unsatis- 
factory state, what is to be said to the universities? This is 
an awful subject, and one I almost fear to touch with my 
unhallowed hands; but I can tell you what those say who have 
authority to speak. 

The Rector of Lincoln College, in his lately published 

^ For a justification of what is here said about these schools, see that 
valuable book, Essays on a Liberal Education, passim. 


valuable Suggestions for Academical Organization with special • 
reference to Oxford, tells us: — 

The colleges were, in their origin, endowments, not for the elements 
of a general liberal education, but for the prolonged study of special 
and professional faculties by men of riper age. The universities em- 
braced both these objects. The colleges, while they incidentally 
aided in elementary education, were specially devoted to the highest 
learning. . . . 

This was the theory of the middle-age university and the design 
of coUegiate foundations in their origin. Time and circumstances 
have brought about a total change. The colleges no longer promote 
the researches of science, or direct professional study. Here and 
there college walls may shelter an occasional student, but not in 
larger proportions than may be found in private Hfe. Elementary 
teaching of youths under twenty is now the only function performed 
by the university, and almost the only object of college endowments. 
Colleges were homes for the life-study of the highest and most ab- 
struse parts of knowledge. They have become boarding schools in 
which the elements of the learned languages are taught to youths. 
(P. 127.) 

If Mr. Pattison's high position, and his obvious love and 
respect for his university be insufficient to convince the 
outside world that language so severe is yet no more than just, 
the authority of the Commissioners who reported on the 
University of Oxford in 1850 is open to no challenge. Yet 
they write: — 

It is generally acknowledged that both Oxford and the country at 
large suffer greatly from the absence of a body of learned men devot- 
ing their lives to the cultivation of science, and to the direction of 
academical education. 

The fact that so few books of profound research emanate from the 
University of Oxford, materially impairs its character as a seat of 
learning, and consequently its hold on the respect of the nation. 

Cambridge can claim no exemption from the reproaches 
addressed to Oxford. And thus there seems no escape from 
the admission that what we fondly call our great seats of 
learning are simply "boarding schools" for bigger boys; 


that learned men are not more numerous in them than out 
of them; that the advancement of knowledge is not the object 
of fellows of colleges; that, in the philosophic calm and med- 
itative stillness of their greenswarded courts philosophy does 
not thrive, and meditation bears few fruits. 

It is my good fortune to reckon amongst my friends resident 
members of both universities, who are men of learning and 
research, zealous cultivators of science, keeping before their 
minds a noble ideal of a university, and doing their best to 
make that ideal a reaHty; and, to me, they would necessarily 
typify the universities, did not the authoritative statements 
I have quoted compel me to believe that they are exceptional, 
and not representative men. Indeed, upon calm considera- 
tion, several circumstances lead me to think that the Rector 
of Lincoln College and the Commissioners cannot be far 

I believe there can be no doubt that the foreigner who 
should wish to become acquainted with the scientific, or 
the literary, activity of modern England, would simply lose 
his time and his pains if he visited our universities with that 

And, as for works of profound research on any subject, 
and, above all, in that classical lore for which the universities 
profess to sacrifice almost everything else, why, a third-rate, 
poverty-stricken German university turns out more produce 
of that kind in one year than our vast and wealthy foundations 
elaborate in ten. 

Ask any man who is investigating any question, profoundly 
and thoroughly — be it historical, philosophical, philological, 
physical, literary, or theological; who is trying to make 
himself master of any abstract subject (except, perhaps, 
political economy and geology, both of which are intensely 
Anglican sciences), whether he is not compelled to read half 
a dozen times as many German as English books? And 
whether, of these English books, more than one in ten is the 


work of a fellow of a college, or a professor of an English 

Is this from any lack of power in the English as compared 
with the German mind? The countrymen of Grote and of 
Mill, of Faraday, of Robert Brown, of Lyell, and of Darwin, 
to go no further back than the contemporaries of men of 
middle age, can afford to smile at such a suggestion. England 
can show now, as she has been able to show in every generation 
since civilization spread over the West, individual men who 
hold their own against the world, and keep alive the old 
tradition of her intellectual eminence. 

But, in the majority of cases, these men are what they are 
in virtue of their native intellectual force, and of a strength 
of character which will not recognize impediments. They 
are not trained in the courts of the Temple of Science, but 
storm the walls of that edifice in all sorts of irregular ways, 
and with much loss of time and power, in order to obtain 
their legitimate positions. 

Our universities not only do not encourage such men; 
do not offer them positions in which it should be their highest 
duty to do thoroughly that which they are most capable of 
doing; but, as far as possible, university training shuts out 
of the minds of those among them, who are subjected to it, 
the prospect that there is anything in the world for which 
they are specially fitted. Imagine the success of the attempt 
to still the intellectual hunger of any of the men I have men- 
tioned, by putting before him, as the object of existence, the 
successful mimicry of the measure of a Greek song, or the 
roll of Ciceronian prose. Imagine how much success would 
be likely to attend the attempt to persuade such men that 
the education which leads to perfection in such elegancies is 
alone to be called culture, while the facts of history, the process 
of thought, the conditions of moral and social existence, and 
the laws of physical nature are left to be dealt with as they may 
by outside barbarians! 


It is not thus that the German universities, from being 
beneath notice a century ago, have become what they are 
now — the most intensely cultivated and the most productive 
intellectual corporations the world has ever seen. 

The student who repairs to them sees in the list of classes 
and of professors a fair picture of the world of knowledge. 
Whatever he needs to know there is some one ready to teach 
him, some one competent to discipline him in the way of 
learning; whatever his special bent, let him but be able and 
diligent, and in due time he shall find distinction and a career. 
Among his professors he sees men whose names are known 
and revered throughout the civilised world; and their living 
example infects him with a noble ambition, and a love for 
the spirit of work. 

The Germans dominate the intellectual world by virtue of 
the same simple secret as that which made Napoleon the master 
of old Europe. They have declared la carriere ouverte aux 
talents, and every Bursch marches with a professor's gown in 
his knapsack. Let him become a great scholar, or man of 
science, and ministers will compete for his services. In 
Germany they do not leave the chance of his holding the office 
he would render illustrious to the tender mercies of a hot 
canvass, and the final wisdom of a mob of country parsons. 

In short, in Germany, the universities are exactly what the 
Rector of Lincoln and the Commissioners tell us the English 
universities are not; that is to say, corporations "of learned 
men devoting their lives to the cultivation of science, and the 
direction of academical education." They are not "boarding 
schools for youths," nor clerical seminaries; but institutions 
for the higher culture of men, in which the theological faculty 
is of no more importance or prominence than the rest; and 
which are truly "universities," since they strive to represent 
and embody the totality of human knowledge, and to find 
room for all forms of intellectual activity. 

May zealous and clear-headed reformers like Mr. Pattison 


succeed in their noble endeavours to shape our universities 
towards some such ideal as this, without losing what is valuable 
and distinctive in their social tone! But until they have 
succeeded, a liberal education will be no more obtainable in 
our Oxford and Cambridge Universities than in our public 

If I am justified in my conception of the ideal of a liberal 
education; and if what I have said about the existing edu- 
cational institutions of the country is also true, it is clear that 
the two have no sort of relation to one another; that the best 
of our schools and the most complete of our university train- 
ings give but a narrow, one-sided, and essentially illiberal 
education — while the worst give what is really next to no 
education at all. The South London Working-Men's Col- 
lege could not copy any of these institutions if it would ; I 
am bold enough to express the conviction that it ought not 
if it could. 

For what is wanted is the reality and not the mere name of 
a liberal education; and this college must steadily set before 
itself the ambition to be able to give that education sooner 
or later. At present we are but beginning, sharpening our 
educational tools, as it were, and, except a modicum of physical 
science, we are not able to ofifer much more than is to be found 
in an ordinary school. 

Moral and social science — one of the greatest and most 
fruitful of our future classes, I hope — at present lacks only 
one thing in our programme, and that is a teacher. A con- 
siderable want, no doubt; but it must be recollected that it 
is much better to want a teacher than to want the desire to 

Further, we need what, for want of a better name, I must 
call Physical Geography. What I mean is that which the 
Germans call Erdkunde. It is a description of the earth, of 
its place and relation to other bodies; of its general structure, 
and of its great features — winds, tides, mountains, plains; 


of the chief forms of the vegetable and animal worlds, of the 
varieties of man. It is the peg upon which the greatest quan- 
tity of useful and entertaining scientific information can be 

Literature is not upon the College programme; but I hope 
some day to see it there. For literature is the greatest of 
all sources of refined pleasure, and one of the great uses of 
a liberal education is to enable us to enjoy that pleasure. 
There is scope enough for the purposes of liberal education 
in the study of the rich treasures of our own language alone. 
All that is needed is direction, and the cultivation of a refined 
taste by attention to sound criticism. But there is no reason 
why French and German should not be mastered suificiently 
to read what is worth reading in those languages with pleasure 
and with profit. 

And finally, by and by, we must have History; treated 
not as a succession of battles and dynasties; not as a series 
of biographies; not as evidence that Providence has always 
been on the side of either Whigs or Tories; but as the devel- 
opment of man in times past, and in other conditions than 
our own. 

But, as it is one of the principles of our College to be self- 
supporting, the public must lead, and we must follow, in these 
matters. If my hearers take to heart what I have said about 
liberal education, they will desire these things, and I doubt 
not we shall be able to supply them. But we must wait till 
the demand is made. 


Matthew Arnold 

Practical people talk with a smile of Plato and of his 
absolute ideas; and it is impossible to deny that Plato's ideas 
do often seem unpractical and impracticable, and especially 
when one views them in connection with the life of a great 
workaday world like the United States. The necessary 
staple of the life of such a world Plato regards with disdain; 
handicraft and trade and the working professions he regards 
with disdain; but what becomes of the life of an industrial 
modern community if you take handicraft and trade and the 
working professions out of it? The base mecha nic arts and 
handicrafts, says Plato, bring about a natural weakness in 
the principle of excellence in a man, so that he cannot govern 
the ignoble growths in him, but nurses them, and cannot 
understand fostering any other. Those who exercise such 
arts and trades, as they have their bodies, he says, marred 
by their vulgar businesses, so they have their souls, too, bowed 
and broken by them. And if one of these uncomely people 
has a mind to seek self-culture and philosophy, Plato compares 
him to a bald little tinker, who has scraped together money, 
and has got his release from service, and has had a bath, and 
bought a new coat, and is rigged out like a bridegroom about 
to marry the daughter of his master who has fallen into poor 
and helpless estate. 

Nor do the working professions fare any better than trade 
at the hands of Plato. He draws for us an inimitable picture 
of the working lawyer, and of his life of bondage; he shows 

^ From Discourses in America. An address delivered repeatedly during 
a visit to America in 1883-84. 


how this bondage from his youth up has stunted and warped 
him, and made him small and crooked of soul, encompassing 
him with difficulties which he is not man enough to rely on 
justice and truth as means to encounter, but has recourse, 
for help out of them, to falsehood and wrong. And so, says 
Plato, this poor creature is bent and broken, and grows up 
from boy to man without a particle of soundness in him, 
although exceedingly smart and clever in his own esteem. 

One cannot refuse to admire the artist who draws these 
pictures. But we say to ourselves that his ideas show the 
influence of a primitive and obsolete order of thiijgs, when 
the warrior cast and the priestly caste were alone in honor, 
and the humble work of the world was done by slaves. We 
have now changed all that; the modern majority consists 
in work, as Emerson declares; and in work, we may add, 
principally of such plain and dusty kind as the work of cul- 
tivators of the ground, handicraftsmen, men of trade and 
business, men of the working professions. Above all is this 
true in a great industrious community such as that of the 
United States. 

Now education, many people go on to say, is still mainly 
governed by the ideas of men like Plato, who lived when the 
warrior caste and the priestly or philosophical class were alone 
in honor, and the really useful part of the community were 
slaves. It is an education fitted for persons of leisure in such 
a community. This education passed from Greece and Rome 
to the feudal communities of Europe, where also the warrior 
caste and the priestly caste were alone held in honor, and 
where the really useful and working part of the community, 
though not nominally slaves as in the pagan world, were prac- 
tically not much better off than slaves, and not more seriously 
regarded. And how absurd it is, people end by saying, to 
inflict this education upon an industrious modern community, 
where very few indeed are persons of leisure, and the mass 
to be considered has not leisure, but is bound, for its own great 


good, and for the great good of the world at large, to plain 
labor and to industrial pursuits, and the education in question 
tends necessarily to make men dissatisfied with these pursuits 
and unfitted for them! 

That is what is said. So far I must defend ^ato, as to 
plead that his view of education and studies is in the general, 
as it seems to me, sound enough, and fitted for all sorts and 
conditions of men, whatever their pursuits may be. "An 
intelligent man," says Plato, "will prize those studies which 
result in his soul getting soberness, righteousness, and wisdomi, 
and will less value the others." I cannot consider that a 
bad description of the aim of education, and of the motives 
which should govern us in the choice of studies, whether we 
are preparing ourselves for a hereditary seat in the English 
House of Lords or for the pork trade in Chicago. 

Still I admit that Plato's world was not ours, that his scorn 
of trade and handicraft is fantastic, that he had no conception 
of a great industrial community such as that of the Xlnited 
States, and that such a community must and will shape its 
education to suit its own needs. If the usual education handed 
down to it from the past does not suit it, it will certainly 
before long drop this and try another. The usual education 
in the past has been mainly literary. The question is whether 
the studies which were long supposed to be the best for all 
of us are practically the best now; whether others are not 
better. The tyranny of the past, many think, weighs on 
us injuriously in the predominance given to letters in educa- 
tion. The question is raised whether, to meet the needs of 
our modern life, the predominance ought not now to gass 
from letters to science; and naturally the question is nowhere 
raised with more energy than here in the United States. The 
design of abasing what is called "mere literary instruction 
and education," and of exalting what is called "sound, exten- 
sive, and practical scientific knowledge," is, in this intensely 
modern world of the United States, even more perhaps than 


in Europe, a very popular design, and makes great and rapid 

I am going to ask whether the present movement for ousting 
letters from their old predominance in education, and for 
transferring the predominance in education to the natural 
sciences, whether this brisk and flourishing movement ought 
to prevail, and whether it is likely that in the end it really 
will prevail. An objection may be raised which I will antic- 
ipate. My own studies have been almost wholly in letters, 
and my visits to the field of the natural sciences have been 
very slight and inadequate, although those sciences have 
always strongly moved my curiosity. A man of letters, it 
will perhaps be said, is not competent to discuss the compara- 
tive merits of letters and natural science as means of education. 
To this objection I reply, first of all, that his incompetence 
if he attempts the discussion but is really incompetent for it, 
will be abundantly visible; nobody will be taken in; he will 
have plenty of sharp observers and critics to save mankind 
from that danger. But the line I am going to follow is, as 
you will soon discover, so extremely simple, that perhaps it 
may be followed without failure even by one who for a more 
ambitious line of discussion would be quite incompetent. 

Some of you may possibly remember a phrase of mine 
which has been the object of a good deal of comment; an 
observation to the effect that in our culture, the aim being 
to know ourselves and the world, we have, as the means to this 
end, to know the best which has been thought and said in the 
world. A man of science, who is also an excellent writer and 
the very prince of debaters. Professor Huxley, in a discourse 
at the opening of Sir Josiah Mason's College at Birmingham, 
laying hold of this phrase, expanded it by quoting some more 
words of mine, which are these: "The civilized world is to 
be regarded as now being, for intellectual and spiritual pur- 
poses, one great confederation, bound to a joint action and 
working to a common result; and whose members have for 



their proper outfit a knowledge of Greek, Roman, and Eastern 
antiquity, and of one another. Special local and temporary 
advantages being put out of account, that modern nation will 
in the intellectual and spiritual sphere make most progress, 
which most thoroughly carries out this programme." 

Now on my phrase, thus enlarged. Professor Huxley remarks 
that when I speak of the above-mentioned knowledge as 
enabling us to know ourselves and the world, I assert literature 
to contain the materials which suffice for thus making us 
know ourselves and the world. But it is not by any means 
clear, says he, that after having learned all which ancient 
and modern literatures have to tell us, we have laid a suffi- 
ciently broad and deep foundation for that criticism of life, 
that knowledge of ourselves and the world, which constitutes 
culture. On the contrary. Professor Huxl ey declares that 
he finds himself "wholly unable to admit that either nations 
or individuals will really advance, if their outfit draws nothing 
from the stores of physical science. An army without weapons 
of precision, and with no particular base of operations, might 
more hopefully enter upon a campaign on the Rhine, than a 
man, devoid of a knowledge of what physical science has done 
in the last century, upon a criticism of life." 

This shows how needful it is for those who are to discuss 
any matter together, to have a common understanding as 
to the sense of the terms they employ, — how needful, and 
how difficult. What Professor Huxley says implies just the 
reproach which is so often brought against the study of belles 
letlres, as they are called: that the study is an elegant one, 
but slight and ineffectual; a smattering of Greek and Latin 
and other ornamental things, of little use for any one whose 
object is to get at truth, and to be a practical man. So, too, 
M. Renan talks of the "superficial humanism" of a school 
course which treats us as if we were all going to be poets, 
writers, preachers, orators, and he opposes this humanism to 
positive science, or the critical search after truth. And there 


is always a tendency in those who are remonstrating against 
the predominance of letters in education, to understand by 
letters belles lettres, and by belles lettres a superficial humanism, 
the opposite of science or true knowledge. 

But when we talk of knowing Greek and Roman antiquity, 
for instance, which is the knowledge people have called the 
humanities, I for my part mean a knowledge which is some- 
thing more than a superficial humanism, mainly decorative. 
"I call all teaching scientific,'" says Wolf, the critic of Homer, 
"which is systematically laid out and followed up to its orig- 
inal sources. For example: a knowledge of classical antiq- 
uity is scientific when the remains of classical antiquity are 
correctly studied in the original languages." There can be 
no doubt that Wolf is perfectly right; that all learning is 
scientific which is systematically laid out and followed up to 
its original sources, and that a genuine humanism is scientific. 

When I speak of knowing Greek and Roman antiquity, 
therefore, as a help to knowing ourselves and the world, I mean 
more than a knowledge of so much vocabulary, so much 
grammar, so many portions of authors in the Greek and Latin 
languages; I mean knowing the Greeks and Romans, and their 
]ife and gwiius, and what they were and did in the world; 
what we g£t from them, and what is its value. That, at least, 
is the ideal ; and when we talk of endeavoring to know Greek 
and Roman antiquity, as a help to knowing ourselves and the 
world, we mean endeavoring so to know them as to satisfy 
this ideal, however much we may still fall short of it. 

The same also as to knowing our own and other modern 
nations, with the like aim of getting to understand ourselves 
and the world. To know the best that has been thought and 
said by the modern nations, is to know, says Professor Huxley, 
"only what modern literatures have to tell us; it is the criti- 
cism of life contained in modern literature." And yet "the 
distinctive character of our times," he urges, "lies in the 
vast and constantly increasing part which is played by natural 


knowledge." And how, therefore, can a man, devoid of knowl- 
edge of what physical science has done in the last century, 
enter hopefully upon a criticism of modern life? 

Let us, I say, be agreed about the meaning of the t ^rms 
we are using. I talk of knowing the best which has been 
thought and uttered in the world; Professor Huxley says 
this means knowing literature. Literature is a large word; 
it may mean everything written with letters or printed in 
a book. Euclid's Elements and Newton's Principia are thus 
literature. All knowledge that reaches us through books is 
literature. But by literature Professor Huxley means bMl^ 
lettres. He means to make me say, that knowing the best 
which has been thought and said by the modern nations is 
knowing their belles lettres and no more. And this is no suffi- 
cient equipment, he argues, for a criticism of modern life. 
But as I do not mean, by knowing ancient Rome, knowing 
merely more or less of Latin belles lettres, and taking no account 
of Rome's military, and political, and legal, and administrative 
work in the world; and as, by knowing ancient Greece, I 
understand knowing her as the giver of Greek art, and the 
guide to a free and right use of reason and to scientific method, 
and the founder of our mathematics and physics and astron- 
omy and biology, — I understand knowing her as all this, 
and not merely knowing certain Greek poems, and histories, 
and treatises, and speeches, — so as to the knowledge of 
modern nations also. By knowing modern nations, I mean 
not merely knowing their belles lettres, but knowing also what 
has been done by such men as Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, 
Darwin. "Our ancestors learned," says Professor Huxley, 
"that the earth is the center of the visible universe, and that 
man is the cynosure of things terrestrial; and more especially 
was it inculcated that the course of nature has no fixed order, 
but that it could be, and constantly was, altered." But for 
us now, continues Professor Huxley, "the notions of the begin- 
ning and the end of the world entertained by our forefathers 


are no longer credible. It is very certain that the earth is 
not the chief body in the material universe, and that the 
world is not subordinated to man's use. It is even more 
certain that nature is the expression of a definite order, 
with which nothing interferes." "And yet," he cries, "the 
purely classical education advocated by the representatives 
of the humanists in our day gives no inkling of all this!" 

In due place and time I will just touch upon that vexed 
question of classical education; but at present the question 
is as to what is meant by knowing the best which modern 
nations have thought and said. It is not knowing their 
belles lettres merely which is meant. To know Italian belles 
lettres is not to know Italy, and to know English belles lettres is 
not to know England. Into knowing Italy and England 
there comes a great deal more, Galileo and Newton amongst 
it. The reproach of being a superficial humanism, a tincture 
of belles lettres, may attach rightly enough to some other dis- 
ciplines; but to the particular discipline recommended when 
I proposed knowing the best that has been thought and said 
in the world, it does not apply. In that best I certainly in- 
clude what in modern times has been thought and said by the 
great observers and knowers of nature. 

There is, therefore, really no question between Professor 
Huxley and me as to whether knowing the great results of 
the modern scientific study of nature is not required as a 
part of our culture, as well as knowing the products of litera- 
ture and art. But to follow the processes by which those 
results are reached, ought, say the friends of physical science, 
to be made the staple of education for the bulk of mankind. 
And here there does arise a question between those whom 
Professor Huxley calls with playful sarcasm "the Levites of 
culture," and those whom the poor humanist is sometimes 
apt to regard as its Nebuchadnezzars. 

The great results of the scientific investigation of nature 
we are agreed upon knowing, but how much of our study are 


we bound to give to the processes by which those results are 
reached? The results have their visible bearing on human 
life. But all the processes, too, all the items of fact by which 
those results are reached and established, are interesting. 
All knowledge is interesting to a wise man, and the knowledge 
of nature is interesting to all men. It is very interesting 
to know, that, from the albuminous white of the egg, the 
chick in the egg gets the materials for its flesh, bones, blood, 
and feathers ; while, from the fatty yolk of the egg, it gets 
the heat and energy which enable it at length to break its 
shell and begin the world. It is less interesting, perhaps, 
but still it is interesting, to know that when a taper burns, 
the wax is converted into carbonic acid and water. More- 
over, it is quite true that the habit of dealing with facts, 
which is given by the study of nature, is, as the friends of 
physical science praise it for being, an excellent discipline. 
The appeal, in the study of nature, is constantly to observa- 
tion and experiment; not only is it said that the thing is so, 
but we can be made to see that it is so. Not only does a man 
tell us that when a taper burns the wax is converted into 
carbonic acid and water, as a man may tell us, if he likes, 
that Charon is punting his ferryboat on the river Styx, or 
that Victor Hugo is a sublime poet, or Mr. Gladstone the 
most admirable of statesmen; but we are made to see that 
the conversion into carbonic acid and water does actually 
happen. This reality of natural knowledge it is, which 
makes the friends of physical science contrast it, as a knowl- 
edge of things, with the humanist's knowledge, which is, they 
say, a knowledge of words. And hence Professor Huxley is 
moved to lay it down that, "for the purpose of attaining real 
culture, an exclusively scientific education is at least as 
effectual as an exclusively literary education." And a certain 
President of the Section for Mechanical Science in the British 
Association is, in Scripture phrase, "very bold," and declares 
that if a man, in his mental training, "has substituted litera- 


ture and history for natural science, he has chosen the less 
useful alternative." But whether we go these lengths or 
not, we must all admit that in natural science the habit 
gained of dsaliftg with facts is a most valuable cjiseipiiire','' 
and that every one should have some experience of it. 

More than this, however, is demanded by the reformers. 
It is proposed to make the training in natural science the 
main part of education, for the great majority of mankind at 
any rate. And here, I confess, I part company with the friends 
of physical science, with whom up to this point I have been 
agreeing. In differing from them, however, I wish to proceed 
with the utmost caution and dififidence. The smallness of 
my own acquaintance with the disciplines of natural science 
is ever before my mind, and I am fearful of doing these disci- 
plines an injustice. The ability and pugnacity of the partisans 
of natural science make them formidable persons to contradict. 
The tone of tentative inquiry, which befits a being of dim 
faculties and bounded knowledge, is the tone I would wish 
to take and not to depart from. At present it seems to me, 
that those who are for giving to natural knowledge, as they 
call it, the chief place in the education of the majority of 
mankind, leave one important thing out of their account: 
the constitution of human nature. But I put this forward on 
the strength of some facts not at all recondite, very far from 
it; facts capable of being stated in the simplest possible 
fashion, and to which, if I so state them, the man of science 
will, I am sure, be willing to allow their due weight. 

Deny the facts altogether, I think, he hardly can. He can 
hardly deny, that when we set ourselves to enumerate the 
powers which go to the building up of human life, and say 
that they are the power of c ondu ct, the power of intgl^ct 
and knowledge, the power of beauty, and the power of social 
life and manners, — he can hardly deny that this scheme, 
though drawn in rough and plain lines enough, and not pre- 
tending to scientific exactness, does yet give a fairly true 


representation of the matter. Human nature is built up by 
these powers; we have the need for them all. When we 
have rightly met and adjusted the claims of them all, we 
shall then be in a fair way for getting soberness and righteous- 
ness, with wisdom. This is evident enough, and the friends 
of physical science would admit it. 

But perhaps they may not have sufi&ciently observed 
another thing: namely, that the several piQwers just men- 
tioned are not isolated, but there is, in the generality of 
mankind, a perpetual tendency to relate them one to another 
in divers ways. With one such way of relating them I am 
particularly concerned now. Following our instinct for 
intellect and knowledge, we acquire pieces of knowledge; 
and presently, in the generality of men, there arises the desire 
to relate these pieces of knowledge to our sense for conduct, 
to our sense for beauty, — and there is weariness and dis- 
satisfaction if the desire is balked. Now in this desire lies, 
I think, the strength of that hold which letters have 
upon us. 

All knowledge is, as I said just now, interesting; and even 
items of knowledge which from the nature of the case cannot 
well be related, but must stand isolated in our thoughts, have 
their interest. Even lists of exceptions have their interest. 
If we are studying Greek accents, it is interesting to know 
that pais and pas, and some other monosyllables of the same 
form of declension, do not take the circumflex upon the last 
syllable of the genitive plural, but vary, in this respect, from 
the common rule. If we are studying physiology, it is inter- 
esting to know that the pulmonary artery carries dark blood 
and the pulmonary vein carries bright blood, departing in 
this respect from the common rule for the division of labor 
between the veins and the arteries. But every one knows 
how we seek naturally to combine the pieces of our knowledge 
together, to bring them under general rules, to relate them to 
principles; and how unsatisfactory and tiresome it would be 


to go on forever learning lists of exceptions, or accumulating 
items of fact which must stand isolated. 

Well, that same need of relating our knowledge, which 
operates here within the sphere of our knowledge itself, we 
shall find operating, also, outside that sphere. We experi- 
ence, as we go on learning and knowing, — the vast majority 
of us experience, — the need of relating what we have learned 
and known to the sense which we have in us for conduct, to 
the sense which we have in us for beauty. 

A certain Greek prophetess of Mantineia in Arcadia, 
Diotima by name, once explained to the philosopher Socrates 
that love, and impulse, and bent of all kinds, is, in fact, noth- 
ing else but the desire in men that good should forever be 
present to them. This desire for good, Diotima assured 
Socrates, is our fundamental desire, of which fundamental 
desire every impulse in us is only some one particular form. 
And therefore this fundamental desire it is, I suppose, — this 
desire in men that good should be forever present to them, 
— which acts in us when we feel the impulse for relating 
our knowledge to our sense for conduct and to our sense for 
beauty. At any rate, with men in general the instinct 
exists. Such is human nature. And the instinct, it will 
be admitted, is innocent, and human nature is preserved 
by our following the lead of its innocent instincts. There- 
fore, in seeking to gratify this instinct in question, we are 
following the instinct of self-preservation in humanity. 

But, no doubt, some kinds of knowledge cannot be made 
to directly serve the instinct in question, cannot be directly 
related to the sense for beauty, to the sense for conduct. 
These are instrument-knowledges; they lead on to other 
knowledges, which can. A man who passes his life in instru- 
ment-knowledges is a specialist. They may be invaluable as 
instruments to something beyond, for those who have the 
gift thus to employ them; and they may be disciplines in 
themselves wherein it is useful for every one to have some 


schooling. But it is inconceivable that the generality of 
men should pass all their mental life with Greek accents or 
with formal logic. My friend Professor Sylvester, who is 
one of the first mathematicians in the world, holds tran- 
scendental doctrines as to the virtue of mathematics, but 
those doctrines are not for common men. In the very Senate 
House and heart of our English Cambridge I once ventured, 
though not without an apology for my profaneness, to hazard 
the opinion that for the majority of mankind a little of 
mathematics, even, goes a long way. Of course this is quite 
consistent with their being of immense importance as an in- 
trument to something else; but it is the few who have the 
aptitude for thus using them, not the bulk of mankind. 

The natural sciences do not, however, stand on the same 
footing with these instrument-knowledges. Experience shows 
us that the generality of men will find more interest in learning 
that, when a taper burns, the wax is converted into carbonic 
acid and water, or in learning the explanation of the phe- 
nomenon of dew, -or in learning how the circulation of the 
blood is carried on, than they find in learning that the genitive 
plural of pais and pas does not take the circumflex on the 
termination. And one piece of natural knowledge is added 
to another, and others are added to that, and at last we come 
to propositions so interesting as Mr. Darwin's famous proposi- 
tion that "our ancestor was a hairy quadruped furnished with 
a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in his habits." 
Or we come to propositions of such reach and magnitude as 
those which Professor Huxley delivers, when he says that the 
notions of our forefathers about the beginning and the end 
of the world were all wrong, and that nature is the expression 
of a definite order with which nothing interferes. 

Interesting, indeed, these results of science are, important 
they are, and we should all of us be acquainted with them. 
But what I now wish you to mark is, that we are still, when 
they are propounded to us and we receive them, we are still 


in the sphere of intellect and knowledge. And for the gener- 
ahty of men there will be found, I say, to arise, when they 
have duly taken in the proposition that their ancestor was 
"a hairy quadruped furnished with a tail and pointed ears, 
probably arboreal in his habits," there will be found to arise 
an invincible desire to relate this proposition to the sense in 
us for conduct, and to the sense in us for beauty. But this 
the men of science will not do for us, and will hardly even 
profess to do. They will give us other pieces of knowledge, 
other facts, about other animals and their ancestors, or about 
plants, or about stones, or about stars; and they may finally 
bring us to those great "general conceptions of the universe, 
which are forced upon us all," says Professor Huxley, "by 
the progress of physical science." But still it will be knowl- 
edge only which they give us; knowledge not put for us into 
relation with our sense for conduct, our sense for beauty, 
and touched with emotion by being so put; not thus put for 
us, and therefore, to the majority of mankind, after a certain 
while, unsatisfying, wearying. 

Not to the born naturalist, I admit. But what do we 
mean by a born naturalist? We mean a man in whom the 
zeal for observing nature is so uncommonly strong and emi- 
nent, that it marks him off from the bulk of mankind. Such 
a man will pass his life happily in collecting natural knowledge 
and reasoning upon it, and will ask for nothing, or hardly 
anything, more. I have heard it said that the sagacious and 
admirable naturalist whom we lost not very long ago, Mr. 
Darwin, once owned to a friend that for his part he did not 
experience the necessity for two things which most men find 
so necessary to them — religion and poetry; science and 
the domestic affections, he thought, were enough. To a 
born naturalist, I can well understand that this should seem 
so. So absorbing is his occupation with nature, so strong 
his love for his occupation, that he goes on acquiring natural 
knowledge and reasoning upon it, and has little time or 


inclination for thinking about getting it related to the desire 
in man for conduct, the desire in man for beauty. He relates 
it to them for himself as he goes along, so far as he feels 
the need; and he draws from the domestic affections all the 
additional solace necessary. But then Darwins are ex- 
tremely rare. Another great and admirable master of natural 
knowledge, Faraday, was a Sandemanian. That is to say, 
he related his knowledge to his instinct for conduct and to 
his instinct for beauty, by the aid of that respectable Scottish 
sectary, Robert Sandeman. And so strong, in general, is the 
demand of religion and poetry to have their share in a man, 
to associate themselves with his knowing, and to relieve and 
rejoice it, that probably, for one man amongst us with the 
disposition to do as Darwin did in this respect, there are at 
least fifty with the disposition to do as Faraday. 

Education lays hold upon us, in fact, by satisfying this 
demand. Professor Huxley holds up to scorn mediaeval 
education, with its neglect of the knowledge of nature, its 
poverty even of literary studies, its formal logic devoted to 
"showing how and why that which the Church said was 
true must be true." But the great mediaeval universities 
were not brought into being, we may be sure, by the zeal for 
giving a jejune and contemptible education. Kings have 
been their nursing fathers, and queens have been their nursing 
mothers, but not for this. The mediaeval universities came 
into being, because the supposed knowledge, delivered by 
Scripture and the Church, so deeply engaged men's hearts, 
by so simply, easily, and powerfully relating itself to their 
desire for conduct, their desire for beauty. All other knowl- 
edge was dominated by this supposed knowledge and was 
subordinated to it, because of the surpassing strength of the 
hold which it gained upon the affections of men, by allying 
itself profoundly with their sense for conduct, their sense for 

But now, says Professor Huxley, conceptions of the uni- 


verse fatal to the notions held by our forefathers have been 
forced upon us by physical science. Grant to him that they 
are thus fatal, that the new conceptions must and will soon 
become current everywhere, and that every one will finally 
perceive them to be fatal to the beliefs of our forefathers. 
The need of humane letters, as they are truly called, because 
they serve the paramount desire in men that good should be 
forever present to them, — the need of humane letters to 
establish a relation between the new conceptions, and our 
instinct for beauty, our instinct for conduct, is only the more 
visible. The middle age could do without humane letters, 
as it could do without the study of nature, because its supposed 
knowledge was made to engage its emotions so powerfully. 
Grant that the supposed knowledge disappears, its power of 
being made to engage the emotions will of course disappear 
along with it, — but the emotions themselves, and their 
claim to be engaged and satisfied, will remain. Now if we 
find by experience that humane letters have an undeniable 
power of engaging the emotions, the importance of humane 
letters in a man's training becomes not less, but greater, in 
proportion to the success of modern science in extirpating 
what it calls "mediaeval thinking." 

Have humane letters, then, have poetry and eloquence, 
the power here attributed to them of engaging the emotions, 
and do they exercise it? And if they have it and exercise it, 
how do they exercise it, so as to exert an influence upon man's 
sense for conduct, his sense for beauty? Finally, even if 
they both can and do exert an influence upon the senses in 
question, how are they to relate to them the results, — the 
modern results, — of natural science? All these questions 
may be asked. First, have poetry and eloquence the power 
of calling out the emotions? The appeal is to experience. 
Experience shows that for the vast majority of men, for 
mankind in general, they have the power. Next, do they 
exercise it? They do. But then, how do they exercise it so 


as to affect man's sense for conduct, his sense for beauty? 
And this is perhaps a case for applying the Preacher's words: 
"Though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; 
yea, further, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall 
he not be able to find it." ^ Why should it be one thing, 
in its effect upon the emotions, to say, "Patience is a virtue," 
and quite another thing, in its effect upon the emotions, to 
say with Homer, 

tXtjtov yap Moipai Qvfxov deaav audpuwoLaLV — ^ 

"for an enduring heart have the destinies appointed to the 
children of men"? Why should it be one thing, in its effect 
upon the emotions, to say with philosopher Spinoza, Felicitas 
in eo consistit quod homo suum esse conservare potest — "Man's 
happiness consists in his being able to preserve his own 
essence," and quite another thing, in its effect upon the 
emotions, to say with the Gospel, "What is a man advantaged, 
if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, forfeit himself?" 
How does this difference of effect arise? I cannot tell, and 
I am not much concerned to know; the important thing is 
that it does arise, and that we can profit by it. But how, 
finally, are poetry and eloquence to exercise the power of 
relating the modern results of natural science to man's instinct 
for conduct, his instinct for beauty? And here again I answer 
that I do not know how they will exercise it, but that they 
can and will exercise it I am sure. I do not mean that modern 
philosophical poets and modern philosophical moralists are 
to come and relate for us, in express terms, the results of 
modern scientific research to our instinct for conduct, our 
instinct for beauty. But I mean that we shall find, as a 
matter of experience, if we know the best that has been 
thought and uttered in the world, we shall find that the art 
and poetry and eloquence of men who lived, perhaps, long 

1 Ecclesiastes, viii. 17. 

2 Iliad, xxiv. 49. 


ago, who had the most limited natural knowledge, who had 
the most erroneous conceptions about many important 
matters, we shall find that this art, and poetry, and eloquence, 
have in fact not only the power of refreshing and delighting 
us, they have also the power, — such is the strength and 
worth, in essentials, of their authors' criticism of life, — 
they have a fortifying, and elevating, and quickening, and 
suggestive power, capable of wonderfully helping us to re- 
late the results of modern science to our need for conduct, 
our need for beauty. Homer's conceptions of the physical 
universe were, I imagine, grotesque; but really, under the 
shock of hearing from modern science that "the world is not 
subordinated to man's use, and that man is not the cynosure 
of things terrestrial," I could, for my own part, desire no 
better comfort than Homer's line which I quoted just now, 

r\r]Tdv yap MoTpat dufiov Oeaav avdpcoTvoKJLV — 

"for an enduring heart have the destinies appointed to the 
children of men!" 

And the more that men's minds are cleared, the more that 
the results of science are frankly accepted, the rnore that 
poetry and eloquence come to be re£.eived and studied as 
what in truth they really are, — the criticism of life by gifted 
men, alive and active with extraordinary power at an unusual 
number of points; — so much the more will the value of 
humane letters, and of art also, which is an utterance having 
a like kind of power with theirs, be felt and acknowledged, 
and their place in education be secured. 

Let us therefore, all of us, avoid indeed as much as possible 
any invidious comparison between the merits of humane 
letters, as means of education, and the merits of the natural 
sciences. But when some President of a Section for Mechani- 
cal Science insists on making the comparison, and tells us 
that "he who in his training has substituted literature and 
history for natural science has chosen the less useful alterna- 


tive," let us make answer to him that the student of humane 
letters only, will, at least, know also the great general con- 
ceptions brought in by modern physical science; for science, 
as Professor Huxley says, forces them upon us all. But the 
student of the natural sciences only, will, by our very hypoth- 
esis, know nothing of humane letters; not to mention that 
in setting himself to be perpetually accumulating natural 
knowledge, he sets himself to do what only specialists have in 
general the gift for doing genially. And so he will probably 
be unsatisfied, or at any rate incomplete, and even more 
incomplete than the student of humane letters only. 

I once mentioned in a school report, how a young man in 
one of our English training colleges having to paraphrase the 
passage in Macbeth beginning. 

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased? 

turned this line into, "Can you not wait upon the lunatic?" 
And I remarked what a curious state of things it would be, 
if every pupil of our national schools knew, let us say, that 
the moon is two thousand one hundred and sixty miles in 
diameter, and thought at the same time that a good para- 
phrase for 

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased? 

was, "Can you not wait upon the lunatic?" If one is driven 
to choose, I think I would rather have a young person ignorant 
about the moon's diameter, but aware that "Can you not wait 
upon the lunatic?" is bad, than a young person whose educa- 
tion had been such as to manage things the other way. 

Or to go higher than the pupils of our national schools. 
I have in my mind's eye a member of our British Parliament 
who comes to travel here in America, who afterwards relates 
his travels, and who shows a really masterly knowledge of 
the geology of this great country and of its mining capa- 
bilities, but who ends by gravely suggesting that the United 
States should borrow a prince from our Royal Family, and 


should make him their king, and should create a House of 
Lords of great landed proprietors after the pattern of ours; 
and then America, he thinks, would have her future happily 
and perfectly secured. Surely, in this case, the President of 
the Section for Mechanical Science would himself hardly say 
that our member of Parliament, by concentrating himself 
upon geology and mineralogy, and so on, and not attend- 
ing to literature and history, had "chosen the more useful 

If then there is to be separation and option between humane 
letters on the one hand, and the natural sciences on the 
other, the great majority of mankind, all who have not ex- 
ceptional and overpowering aptitudes for the study of nature, 
would do well, I cannot but think, to choose to be educated 
in humane letters rather than in the natural sciences. Letters 
will call out their being at more points, will make them live 

I said that before I ended I would just touch on the question 
of classical education, and I will keep my word. Even if 
literature is to retain a large place in our education, yet 
Latin and Greek, say the friends of progress, will certainly 
have to go. Greek is the grand offender in the eyes of these 
gentlemen. The attackers of the established course of study 
think that against Greek, at any rate, they have irresistible 
arguments. Literature may perhaps be needed in education, 
they say; but why on earth should it be Greek literature? 
Why not French or German? Nay, "has not an English- 
man models in his own literature of every kind of excellence?" 
As before, it is not on any weak pleadings of my own that I 
rely for convincing the gainsaycrs; it is on the constitution 
of human nature itself, and on the instinct of self-preservation 
in humanity. The instinct for beauty is set in human nature, 
as surely as the instinct for knowledge is set there, or the 
instinct for conduct. If the instinct for beauty is served by 
Greek literature and art as it is served by no other literature 


and art, we may trust to the instinct of self-preservation in 
humanity for keeping Greek as part of our culture. We 
may trust to it for even making the study of Greek more 
prevalent than it is now. Greek will come, I hope, some 
day to be studied more rationally than at present; but it 
will be increasingly studied as men increasingly feel the 
need in them for beauty, and how powerfully Greek art and 
Greek literature can serve this need. Women will again 
study Greek, as Lady Jane Grey did; I believe in that chain 
of forts, with which the fair host of the Amazons are now 
engirdling our English universities ; I find that here in 
America, in colleges like Smith College in Massachusetts, 
and Vassar College in the State of New York, and in the 
happy families of the mixed universities out West, they are 
studying it already. 

Defuit una mihi symmetria prisca, — "The antique sym- 
metry was the one thing wanting to me," said Leonardo da 
Vinci; and he was an Italian. I will not presume to speak 
for the Americans but I am sure that, in the Englishman, 
the want of this admirable symmetry of the Greeks is a 
thousand times more great and crying than in any Italian. 
The results of the want show themselves most glaringly, 
perhaps, in our architecture, but they show themselves, also, 
in all our art. Fit details strictly combined, in view of a large 
general result nobly conceived; that is just the beautiful sym- 
metria prisca of the Greeks, and it is just where we English 
fail, where all our art fails. Striking ideas we have, and well- 
executed details we have; but that high symmetry which, 
with satisfying and delightful effect, combines them, we 
seldom or never have. The glorious beauty of the Acropolis 
at Athens did not come from single fine things stuck about 
on that hill, a statue here, a gateway there; — no, it arose 
from all things being perfectly combined for a supreme total 
effect. What must not an Englishman feel about our defi- 
ciencies in this respect, as the sense for beauty, whereof this 


symmetry is an essential element, awakens and strengthens 
within him! what will not one day be his respect and desire 
for Greece and its symmetria prisca, when the scales drop 
from his eyes as he walks the London streets, and he sees 
such a lesson in meanness as the Strand, for instance, in its 
true deformity! But here we are coming to our friend Mr. 
Ruskin's province, and I will not intrude upon it, for he is 
its very sufficient guardian. 

And so we at last find, it seems, we find flowing in favor of 
the humanities the natural and necessary stream of things, 
which seemed against them when we started. The "hairy 
quadruped furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably 
arboreal in his habits," this good fellow carried hidden in 
his nature, apparently, something destined to develop into a 
necessity for humane letters. Nay, more; we seem finally 
to be even led to the further conclusion that our hairy ancestor 
carried in his nature, also, a necessity for Greek. 

And therefore, to say the truth, I cannot really think that 
humane letters are in much actual danger of being thrust 
out from their leading place in education, in spite of the 
array of authorities against them at this moment. So long 
as human nature is what it is, their attractions will remain 
irresistible. As with Greek, so with letters generally: they 
will some day come, we may hope, to be studied more ra- 
tionally, but they will not lose their place. What will happen 
will rather be that there will be crowded into education other 
matters besides, far too many; there will be, perhaps, a period 
of unsettlement and confusion and false tendency; but 
letters will not in the end lose their leading place. If they 
lose it for a time, they will get it back again. We shall be 
brought back to them by our wants and aspirations. And a 
poor humanist may possess his soul in patience, neither 
strive nor cry, admit the energy and brilliancy of the partisans 
of physical science, and their present favor with the public, 
to be far greater than his own, and still have a happy faith 


that the nature of things works silently on behalf of the 
studies which he loves, and that, while we shall all have to 
acquaint ourselves with the great results reached by modern 
science, and to give ourselves as much training in its disciplines 
as we can conveniently carry, yet the majority of men will 
always require humane letters; and so much the more, as 
they have the more and the greater results of science to 
relate to the need in man for conduct, and to the need in him 
for beauty. 


Frederick J. Turner 

In a bulletin of the Superintendent of the Census for 1890 
appear these significant words: "Up to and including 1880 
the country had a frontier of settlement, but at present the 
unsettled area has been so broken into by isolated bodies of 
settlement that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line. 
In the discussion of its extent, its westward movement, etc., 
it cannot, therefore, any longer have a place in the census 
reports." This brief official statement marks the closing of 
a great historic movement. Up to our own day American 
history has been in a large degree the history of the coloniza- 
tion of the West. The existence of an area of free land, its 
continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement 
westward explain American development. 

Behind institutions, behind constitutional forms and 
modificatijons, lie the vital forces that call these organs into 
life and shape them to meet changing conditions. The 
peculiarity of American institutions is the fact that they have 
been compelled to adapt themselves to the changes of an 
expanding people — to the changes involved in crossing a 
continent, in winning a wilderness, and in developing at 
each area of this progress out of the primitive economic and 
political conditions of the frontier into the complexity of 
city life. Said Calhoun in 181 7, "We are great, and rapidly 
— I was about to say fearfully — growing!" So saying, he 

^ Reprinted, by courtesy of the author and publisher, from the Fifth 
Yearbook of the National Hcrbarl Society (University of Chicago Press, 
1899). First edition printed in Report of American Historical Association 
for iSgj. 


touched the distinguishing feature of American life. All 
people show development; the germ theory of politics has 
been sufficiently emphasized. In the case of most nations, 
however, the development has occurred in a limited area; 
and if the nation has expanded, it has met other growing 
peoples whom it has conquered. But in the case of the 
United States we have a different phenomenon. Limiting 
our attention to the Atlantic coast, we have the familiar 
phenomenon of the evolution of institutions in a limited 
area, such as the rise of representative government; the 
differentiation of simple colonial governments into complex 
organs; the progress from primitive industrial society, with- 
out division of labor, up to manufacturing civilization. But 
we have in addition to this a recurrence of the process of 
evolution in each western area reached in the process of 
expansion. Thus American development has exhibited not 
merely advance along a single line, but a return to primitive 
conditions on a continually advancing frontier line, and a 
new development for that area. American social develop- 
ment has been continually beginning over again on the frontier. 
This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this 
expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous 
touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnish the 
forces dominating American character. The true point of 
view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic coast: 
it is the great West. Even the slavery struggle, which is 
made so exclusive an object of attention by some historians, 
occupies its important place in American history because of 
its relation to westward expansion. 

In this advance, the frontier is the outer edge of the wave, 
— the meeting-point between savagery and civilization. 
Much has been written about the frontier from the point of 
view of border warfare and the chase, but as a field for the 
serious study of the economist and the historian it has been 


The American frontier is sharply distinguished from the 
European frontier, — a fortified boundary Hne running through 
dense populations. The most significant thing about the 
American frontier is, that it lies at the hither edge of free 
land. In the census reports it is treated as the margin of 
that settlement which has a density of two or more to the 
square mile. The term is an elastic one, and for our purposes 
does not need sharp definition. We shall consider the whole 
frontier belt, including the Indian country and the outer 
margin of the "settled area" of the census reports. This 
paper will make no attempt to treat the subject exhaustively; 
its aim is simply to call attention to the frontier as a fertile 
field for investigation, and to suggest some of the problems 
which arise in connection with it. 

In the settlement of America we have to observe how 
European life entered the continent, and how America modified 
and developed that life and reacted on Europe. Our early 
history is the history of European germs developing in an 
American environment. Too exclusive attention has been 
paid by institutional students to the Germanic origins, too 
little to the American factors. The frontier is the line of 
most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness 
masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, 
industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes 
him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. 
It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in 
the hunting shirt and moccasin. It puts him in the log 
cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade 
around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian 
corn and plowing with a sharp stick; he shouts the war cry 
and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, 
at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the 
man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes, or 
perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and 
follows the Indian trails. Little by little he transforms the 


wilderness, but the outcome is not the old Europe, not simply 
the development of Germanic germs, any more than the 
first phenomenon was a case of reversion to the Germanic 
mark. The fact is, that here is a new„ product that is Ameri- 
can. At first, the frontier was the Atlantic coast. It was 
the frontier of Europe in a very real sense. Moving west- 
ward, the frontier became more and more American. As 
successive terminal moraines result from successive glacia- 
tions, so each frontier leaves its traces behind it, and when it 
becomes a settled area the region still partakes of the frontier 
characteristics. Thus the advance of the frontier has meant 
a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, a 
steady growth of independence on American lines. And to 
study this advance, the men who grew up under these condi- 
tions, and the political, economic, and social results of it, is 
to study the peculiarly American part of our history. 

Let us then grasp the conception of American society steadily 
expanding into new areas. How important it becomes to 
watch the stages, the processes, and the results of this ad- 
vance! The conception will be found to revolutionize our 
study of American history. AaX^^^^-*'^'^ 

Stages of Frontier Advance 

In the Report on Population of the United States of the 
Eleventh Census, Part I, the student will find a series of 
maps representing the advance of population at each census 
period since 1790. By a consideration of these maps in 
connection with a relief map of the United States, and with 
the Reconnoissance Map of the United States showing the 
distribution of the geologic system (Fourteenth Annual 
Report of the United States Geological Survey, plate ii), 
and with the Contour Map of the United States (in blue and 
brown only, without culture data, published by the United 
States Geological Survey), it will become plain that for an 
adequate comprehension of the course of American history, 


it is necessary to study the process by which the advancing 
flood of settlement flowed into the successive physiographic 
areas. We must observe also how these areas affected the 
life of the emigrants from the older sections and from Europe. 

When one examines these census maps by the side of Major 
Powell's map showing the physiographic regions of the United 
States/ he comprehends the fact that there are American 
sections, neither defined by state lines, nor by the old divisions 
of New England, middle region, south, and west; he perceives 
that, in some respects, the map of the United States may be 
likened to the map of Europe; that the great physiographic 
provinces which have been won by civilization are economi- 
cally and socially comparable to nations of the Old World. 
The study of the stages of frontier advance thus becomes the 
fascinating examination of the successive evolution of peculiar 
economic and social countries, or provinces, each with its own 
inheritance, its own contributions, and individuality. 

Such a study of the moving frontier will show how, after 
the tide-water section was settled below the fall line ^ in the 
seventeenth century, a combined stream along the Great 
Valley and up the southern rivers that drain into the Atlantic, 
filled in the Piedmont region. This process occupied the 
first half of the eighteenth century. In the same period, 
settlement was ascending the Connecticut and the Housatonic 
in New England, and the Mohawk in New York. These 
river valleys, walled by the mountains and enriched with 
fluvial soils, became the outlet for increasing population, and 
they directed the flow of settlement. Thus two rival currents 
of settlement were already started by the middle of the 
eighteenth century. New England's stream was almost 
pure native stock. The stream that followed the Great 
Valley and occupied the Piedmont was dominantly Scotch- 
Irish and German. 

^ Physiography of the United States, pp. 98-99. 

^ See Powell, Physiography of the United States, pp. 73-74. 


In vain the king attempted to check this advance by his 
proclamation of 1763, forbidding settlements beyond the 
sources of the Atlantic rivers. Just before the Revolution 
settlement reached and followed the "Western Waters" 
(the streams that, rising near the sources of the Atlantic 
rivers, cut their way through the mountains to join the Ohio).^ 
The limestone soils, so welcome to the farmer, were influ- 
ential in determining this advance. The limestone belt that 
floors the northern part of the Great Valley in Pennsylvania, 
Maryland, and Virginia, had tempted settlers along its path 
and into the Piedmont. The limestone flooring of the Ten- 
nessee Valley now attracted settlers to eastern Tennessee. 
Thence, by Cumberland Gap, or down the Ohio from the 
north, the flood poured into the limestone areas of Kentucky 
and Tennessee, known as the Blue Grass lands. 

By the close of the Revolution settlement in Kentucky and 
Tennessee was almost coterminous with the limestone forma- 
tions, as may be seen by comparing the map of the census of 
1790 with the map. showing the distribution of the geologic 
system of the United States. These outlying islands of 
settlement, separated by wilderness and mountains from the 
frontier border of the settled area of the coast, had important 
effects upon American diplomatic, military, and economic 
history. In the Revolutionary era the frontier communities 
beyond the mountains attempted to establish states of their 
own, on democratic lines.^ The West as a self-conscious 
section began to evolve,* and the struggle for the navigation 

^ On this movement see Roosevelt, Winning of the West; Winsor, Mis- 
sissippi Basin; and Winsor, Westward Movement. See also accounts of 
travelers, as cited in Report of American Historical Association for iSgj, 
p. 203, and in Channing and Hart, Guide to American History, pp. 78-86. 

* See my paper on Western State-making in the Revolutionary Era 
{American Historical Review, I, 70, 251); Alden, New Governments West; 
of the Alleghanies before 1780 {Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin). 

^ Cf. Atlantic Monthly, September, 1896, Ixxviii, 289. 


of the Mississippi accented this western individualism, and 
made doubtful the unity of America. 

By diplomacy, and by Indian wars and cessions, gradually 
the way was opened for the spread of settlement into western 
New York, and into the country north of the Ohio. New 
England's Connecticut Valley and Housatonic Valley settlers, 
overflowing their confines, poured into central and western 
New York between 1788 and 1820, and New England also 
began to settle in Ohio. The Middle States and the South 
sent their current of settlement into the southern part of the 
Northwest/ while settlement followed the victories of Andrew 
Jackson into the Southwest after the War of 181 2. 

By the census of 1820 the settled area included Ohio, south- 
ern Indiana and Illinois, southeastern Missouri, and about 
one half of Louisiana. This settled area had surrounded 
Indian areas, and the management of these tribes became an 
object of political concern. The frontier region of the time 
lay along the Great Lakes, where Astor's American Fur 
Company operated in the Indian trade,- and beyond the 
Mississippi, where Indian traders extended their activity 
even to the Rocky Mountains; Florida also furnished frontier 
conditions. The Mississippi River region was the scene of 
typical frontier settlements.^ The era of internal improve- 

^ Atlantic Monthly, April, 1897, Ixxix, 433 et seq.; Roosevelt, Winning of 
the West, vol. iv; Thorpe, Constitutional History of the People of the United 
States; Dwight, Travels (1796-1815) [New Haven, 1821]. 

* Turner, Character and Influence of the Indian Trade in Wisconsin 
{Johns Hopkins University Studies, Series ix), pp. 61 ff. 

^ Monette, History of the Mississippi Valley, vol. ii; Flint, Travels and 
Residence in Mississippi; Flint, Geography and History of the Western States; 
Abridgment of Debates of Congress, vii, 397, 398, 404; Holmes, Accoimt of 
the United States; Kingdom, America and the British Colonies [London, 
i82o3; Grand, Americans, II, i, iii, vi (although writing in 1836, he treats 
of conditions that grew out of western advance from the era of 1820 to 
tjiat time); Peck, Guide for Emigrants [yio?,ton, 1831]; Daxhy , Emigrants^ 
Guide to Western and Soullnvestern States and Territories; Dana, Geographi- 
cal Slietches in the Western Country; Kinzie, Waubun; Keating, Narrative 


ments and protective tariffs under the home-market idea 
opened. Its explanation is to be sought in the distribution 
of settlement. 

The rising steam navigation ^ on western waters, the open- 
ing of the Erie Canal, and the westward extension of cotton ^ 
culture added five frontier states to the Union in this period. 
Grund, writing in 1836, declares: "It appears then that the 
universal disposition of Americans to emigrate to the western 
wilderness, in order to enlarge their dominion over inanimate 
nature, is the actual result of an expansive power which is 
inherent in them, and which by continually agitating all 
classes of society is constantly throwing a large portion of 
the whole population on the extreme confines of the state, in 
order to gain space for its development. Hardly is a new 
state or territory formed before the same principle manifests 
itself again and gives rise to a further emigration; and so it 
is destined to go on until a physical barrier must finally 
obstruct its progress." ^ 

It was in the period between 1820 and 1850 that the forces 
were at work which differentiated the northwestern frontier 
and the southwestern frontier. In the Southwest the spread 
of cotton culture transformed the pioneer farmer into the 
great planter and slaveholder. In the Northwest, the New 
England and Middle State stream, followed by German 
immigration, took possession of the Great Lake basin, and 
the pioneer farmer type was continued. This section was 
united to New York by the Erie Canal and by the later rail- 

of Long^s Expedition; Schoolcraft, Discovery of the Sources of the Mississippi 
River, Travels in the Central Portions of the Mississippi Valley, and Lead 
Mines of the Missouri; Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities; McKenney, Tour to 
the Lakes; Thomas, Travels through the Western Country, etc. [^Auburn, 
N. Y., 1819]. Cf. Turner, Rise of New West, vols, v-viii pSTew York, 1906]. 

^ Darby, Emigrants' Guide, pp. 272 ff.; Benton, Abridgment of Debates, 
vii, 397. 

^ Turner, Rise of New West, chap. iv. 

^ Grund, Americans, ii, 8. 


roads. New Orleans ceased to be the outlet of the North- 
west. Thus the physiographic province included in the 
glaciated area embracing the Great Lake basin and New 
England plateau was brought, by the flow of frontier settle- 
ment, into economic, political, and social unity. In the same 
period the physiographic province of the Gulf plains was 
settled and unified by extensions of the coastal south, under 
the temptations of the cotton lands. The struggle for Texas 
and the Mexican War were later sequences of this movement. 

Prior to this, the Mississippi valley had possessed a con- 
siderable degree of social and political homogeneity. By the 
processes just mentioned, however, the sectional division of 
North and South was carried beyond the Alleghenies, and the 
western spirit gave to the political and economic antagonisms 
between the old North and South sections a new rancor and 
aggressiveness. Both were regions of action, and they fur- 
nished the radical leaders for their respective sections in the 
struggle that followed. 

In the middle of this century the line indicated by the 
present eastern boundary of Indian Territory, Nebraska, and 
Kansas marked the frontier of the Indian country.^ Minne- 
sota and Wisconsin still exhibited frontier conditions,^ but 

1 Peck, New Guide to the West, chap, iv [Cincinnati, 1848]; Parkman, 
Oregon Trail; Hall, The West [Cincinnati, 1848]; Pierce, Incidents of Western 
Travel; Murray, Travels in North America; Lloyd, Steamboat Directory 
[Cincinnati, 1856]; "Forty Days in a Western Hotel" (Chicago), in Put- 
nam's Magazine, December, 1894; Mackay, The Western World, II, ii, iii; 
Meeker, Life in the West; Bogen, Germans in America [Boston, i8si3; 
Olmstead, Texas Journey; Greeley, Recollections of a Busy Life; Schouler, 
History of the United Stales, v, 261-267; Peyton, Over the Alleghenies and 
Across the Prairies [London, 1870]; Peyton, Suggestions on Railroad Com- 
munication with the Pacific and the Trade of China atid the Indian Islands; 
Benton, Highway to the Pacific (a speech in the United States Senate, 
December 16, 1850). Cf. Chittenden, American Fur Trade. 

* A writer in the Home Missionary [1850], p. 239, reporting Wisconsin 
conditions, exclaims: "Think of this, people of the enlightened East! 
What an example, to come from the very frontiers of civilization!" But 


the distinctive frontier of the period is found in California, 
where the gold discoveries had sent a sudden tide of adven- 
turous miners, in Oregon, and in the settlements in Utah.^ 
As the frontier had leaped over the Alleghenies, so now it 
skipped the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains; and in 
the same way that the advance of the frontiersman beyond 
the Alleghenies had caused the rise of important questions of 
transportation and internal improvement, so now the settlers 
beyond the Rocky Mountains needed means of communica- 
tion with the East, and in the furnishing of these arose the 
settlement of the Great Plains and the development of still 
another kind of frontier life. Railroads, fostered by land 
grants, sent an increasing tide of immigrants into the Far 
West. The United States army ^ fought a series of Indian 
wars in Minnesota, Dakota, and the Indian Territory; cessions 
made way for settlement. 

By 1880 the settled area had been pushed into northern 
Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, along Dakota rivers, 
and in the Black Hills region, and was ascending the rivers of 
Kansas and Nebraska.^ The development of mines in Col- 
orado had drawn isolated frontier settlements into that 
region, and Montana and Idaho were receiving settlers. The 
frontier was found in these mining camps and the ranches of 
the Great Plains. The superintendent of the census for 1890 
reports, as previously stated, that the settlements of the 
West lie so scattered over the region that there can no longer 
be said to be a frontier line 

one of the missionaries writes: "In a few years Wisconsin will no longer 
be considered as the West, or as an outpost of civilization, any more than 
western New York, or the Western Reserve." 

1 Bancroft (H. H.), History of the Pacific States; and Popular Tribunals; 
Hittell, California; Shinn, "Mining Camps"; Shinn, "Story of the Mine": 
Century Magazine, 1890, 1891. 

^ Rodenbough and Haskin, Army of the United Stales. 

^ See Atlantic Monthly, Ixxix, 440. 


It will be noted that the frontier boundaries are physio- 
graphically significant. The fall line marked the seventeenth- 
century frontier; the Allegheny Mountains, that of the middle 
of the eighteenth century; the Mississippi, that of the last 
decade of the eighteenth century, and, in part, that of the 
first quarter of the present century. Settlement which had 
crept up the Missouri, the Platte, etc., by the middle of the 
nineteenth century stayed while the rush of gold seekers 
made a new frontier on the Pacific coast and in the Rocky 
Mountains. The boundary of the arid region (roughly the 
hundredth meridian) marks the most recent frontier. The 
conquest of the arid West will be by different processes than 
that of the other areas of western advance, and a different 
social type may be looked for in the region. 

Each great western advance, thus outlined, has been 
accompanied by a diplomatic or military struggle against 
rival nations, and by a series of Indian wars and cessions. 

The Frontier furnishes a Field for Comparative Study of Social 

At the Atlantic frontier one can study the germs of pro- 
cesses repeated at each successive frontier. We have the com- 
plex European life sharply precipitated by the wilderness into 
the simplicity of primitive conditions. The first frontier had 
to meet its Indian question, its question of the disposition of 
the public domain, of the means of intercourse with older 
settlements, of the extension of political organization, of 
religious and educational activity. And the settlement of 
these and similar questions for one frontier served as a guide 
for the next. The American student needs not to go to the 
"prim little townships of Sleswick" for illustrations of the law 
of continuity and development. For example, he may study 
the origin of our land policies in the colonial land policy; he 
may see how the system grew by adapting the statutes to the 


customs of the successive frontiers.^ He may see how the 
mining experience in the lead regions of Wisconsin, Illinois, 
and Iowa was applied to the mining laws of the Rockies,^ 
and how our Indian policy has been a series of experimenta- 
tions on successive frontiers. Each tier of new states has 
found in the older ones material for its constitution.^ Each 
frontier has made similar contributions to American char- 
acter, as will be discussed farther on. 

But with all these similarities there are essential differences, 
due to the place element and the time element. It is evident 
that the farming frontier of the Mississippi Valley presents 
different conditions from the mining frontier of the Rocky 
Mountains. The frontier reached by the Pacific railroad, 
surveyed into rectangles, guarded by the United States army, 
and recruited by the daily immigrant ship, moves forward 
in a different way and at a swifter pace than the frontier 
reached by the birch canoe or the pack horse. The geologist 
traces patiently the shores of ancient seas, maps their areas, 
and compares the older and the newer. It would be a work 
worth the historian's labors to mark these various frontiers, 
and in detail compare one with another. Not only would there 
result a more adequate conception of American development 
and characteristics, but invaluable additions would be made 
to the history of society. 

Loria,^ the Italian economist, has urged the study of colonial 
life as an aid in understanding the stages of European devel- 
opment, affirming that colonial settlement is for economic 
science what the mountain is for geology, bringing to light 
primitive stratifications. ''America," he says, "has the key 

* See the suggestive paper by Professor Jesse Macy, "The Institutional 
Beginnings of a Western State." 

^ Shinn, "Mining Camps." 

' Cf. Thorpe, in Annals of American Academy of Political and Social 
Science, September, 1891; Bryce, American Commonwealth [1888], ii, 689. 

* Loria, Analisi delta Proprietd Capitalista, ii, 15. 


to the historical enigma which Europe has sought for centuries 
in vain, and the land which has no history reveals luminously 
the course of universal history." There is much truth in this. 
The United States lies like a huge page in the history of 
society. Line by line, as we read this continental page from 
west to east, we find the record of social evolution. It begins 
with the Indian and the hunter; it goes on to tell of the 
disintegration of savagery by the entrance of the trader, the 
pathfinder of civilization; we read the annals of the pastoral 
stage in ranch life; the exploitation of the soil by the raising 
of unrotated crops of corn and wheat in sparsely settled 
farming communities; the intensive culture of the denser 
farm settlement; and finally, the manufacturing organization 
with city and factory system.^ This page is familiar to the 
student of census statistics, but how little of it has been used 
by our historians. Particularly in eastern states this page is 
a palimpsest. What is now a manufacturing state was in an 
earlier decade an area of intensive farming. Earlier yet it 
had been a wheat area, and still earlier the "range" had 
attracted the cattle herder. Thus Wisconsin, now developing 
manufacture, is a state with varied agricultural interests. 
But earlier it was given over to almost exclusive grain rais- 
ing, like North Dakota at the present time. 

Each of these areas has had an influence in our economic 
and political history; the evolution of each into a different 
industrial stage has worked political transformations.^ Wis- 
consin, to take an illustration, in the days when it lacked 
varied agriculture and complex industrial life, was a strong- 
hold of the granger and greenback movements; but it has 

1 Cf. Observations on the N. A. Land Company, pp. 15, 144 [London, 
1796]; Logan, History of Upper S. C, i, 149-151; Turner, Indian Trade in 
Wisconsin, p. i8; Peck, New Guide for Emigrants, chap, iv [Boston, 1837]; 
Compendium, Eleventh Census, xl. 

2 Turner, Introduction to Libby's Ratification of the American Con- 
stitution \_Bull. of Univ. of Wis., Econ., Pol. Sci., and Ilist. Series, vol. ij. 


undergone an industrial transformation, and in the presi- 
dential contest of 1896 Mr. Bryan carried but three counties 
in the state. Again consider the history of Calhoun. His 
father came with the tide of Scotch-Irish pioneers that built 
their log cabins in the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. 
The young manhood of Calhoun was thoroughly western in 
its nationalistic and loose-construction characteristics. But 
the extension of cotton culture to the Piedmont, following 
the industrial revolution in England, superseded the pioneer 
by the slave-holding planter. Calhoun's ideas changed with 
his section, until he became the chief prophet of southern 
sectionalism and slavery.^ 

Among isolated coves in the Appalachian Mountains, and 
in other out-of-the-way places, the frontier has survived, like 
a fossil, in a more recent social formation. The primitive 
economic conditions of these mountains of Tennessee, or of 
Georgia, for instance, enable us to comprehend some of the 
characteristics of the frontier of earlier days. In the American 
Journal of Sociology for July, 1898, under the title "A Re- 
tarded Frontier," Professor Vincent has described such a 

The Atlantic frontier was compounded of fisherman, fur 
trader, miner, cattle raiser, and farmer. Excepting the 
fisherman, each type of industry was on the march toward 
the west, drawn by an irresistible attraction. Each passed 
in successive waves across the continent. Stand at Cumber- 
land Gap and watch the procession of civilization, marching 
single file — the buffalo following the trail to the salt springs, 
the Indian, the fur trader and hunter, the cattle raiser, the 
pioneer farmer — and the frontier has passed by. Stand at 
South Pass in the Rockies a century later and see the same 
procession with wider intervals between. The unequal rate 
of advance compels us to distinguish the frontier into the 

1 Turner, Rise of New West, for other illustrations, and cf. Atlantic 
Monthly, April, 1897, Lxxix, 441-4.43. 


trader's frontier, the rancher's frontier, or the miner's frontier, 
and the farmer's frontier. When the mines and the cow 
pens were still near the fall line the trader's pack trains were 
tinkling across the Alleghenies, and the French on the Great 
Lakes were fortifying their posts, alarmed by the British 
trader's birch canoe. When the trappers scaled the Rockies 
the farmer was still near the mouth of the Missouri. 

y The Indian Trader'' s Frontier 

Why was it that the Indian trader passed so rapidly across 
the continent? What effects followed from the trader's 
frontier? The trade was coeval with American discovery. 
The Norsemen, Vespucius, Verrazani, Hudson, John Smith, 
all trafficked for furs. The Plymouth pilgrims settled in 
Indian cornfields, and their first return cargo was of beaver 
and lumber. The records of the various New England 
colonies show how steadily exploration was carried into the 
wilderness by this trade. What is true for New England is, as 
would be expected, even plainer for the rest of the colonies. 
All along the coast from Maine to Georgia the Indian trade 
opened up the river courses. Steadily the trader passed 
westward, utilizing the older lines of French trade. The 
Ohio, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the 
Platte, the lines of western advance, were ascended by traders. 
They found the passes in the Rocky Mountains and guided 
Lewis and Clark, ^ Fremont, and Bidwell. The explanation 
of the rapidity of this advance is connected with the effects 
of the trader on the Indian. The trading post left the un- 
armed tribes at the mercy of those that had purchased fire- 
arms, — a truth which the Iroquois Indians wrote in blood, 
and so the remote and unvisited tribes gave eager welcome 
to the trader. "The savages," wrote La Salle, "take better 
care of us French than of their own children; from us only 

1 But Lewis and Clark were the first to explore the route from the Mis- 
souri to the Columbia. 


can they get guns and goods." This accounts for the trader's 
power and the rapidity of his advance. Thus the disinte- 
grating forces of civihzation entered the wilderness. Every 
river valley and Indian trail became a fissure in Indian society, 
and so that society became honeycombed. Long before the 
pioneer farmer appeared on the scene, primitive Indian life 
had passed away. The farmers met Indians armed with 
guns. The trading frontier, while steadily undermining 
Indian power by making the tribes ultimately dependent on 
the whites, yet, through its sale of guns, gave to the Indians 
increased power of resistance to the farming frontier. French 
colonization was dominated by its trading frontier, English 
colonization by its farming frontier. There was an antago- 
nism between the two frontiers as between the two nations. 
Said Duquesne to the Iroquois: "Are you ignorant of the 
difference between the king of England and the king of France? 
Go see the forts that our king has established and you will 
see that you can still hunt under their very walls. They 
have been placed for your advantage in places which you 
frequent. The English, on the contrary, are no sooner in 
possession of a place than the game is driven away. The 
forest falls before them as they advance, and the soil is laid 
bare so that you can scarce find the wherewithal to erect a 
shelter for the night." 

And yet, in spite of this opposition of the interests of the 
trader and the farmer, the Indian trade pioneered the way for 
civilization. The buffalo trail became the Indian trail, and 
this became the trader's "trace"; the trails widened into 
roads, and the roads into turnpikes, and these in turn were 
transformed into railroads. The same origin can be shown 
for important railroads of the South, the Far West, and the 
Dominion of Canada.^ The trading posts reached by these 

^ The later railroads frequently deviated in important respects from the 
exact line of the old trails; but the statement is true in general. See Narra- 
tive and Critical History of America, viii, 10; Sparks, Washington's Works, 


trails were on the sites of Indian villages which had been 
placed in positions suggested by nature; and these trading 
posts, situated so as to command the water systems of the 
country, have grown into such cities as Albany, Pittsburg, 
Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Council Bluffs, and Kansas City. 
Thus civilization in America has followed the arteries made 
by geology, pouring an ever richer tide through them, until at 
last the slender paths of aboriginal intercourse have been 
broadened and interwoven into the complex mazes of modern 
commercial lines; the wilderness has been interpenetrated by 
lines of civilization growing ever more numerous. It is like 
the steady growth of a complex nervous system for the 
originally simple, inert continent. If one would understand 
why we are to-day one nation rather than a collection of 
isolated states, he must study this economic and social con- 
solidation of the country. In this progress from savage 
conditions lie topics for the evolutionist.^ 

The effect of the Indian frontier as a consolidating agent in 
our history is important. From the close of the seventeenth 
century various intercolonial congresses have been called to 
treat with Indians and establish common measures of defense. 
Particularism was strongest in colonies with no Indian frontier. 
This frontier stretched along the western border like a cord 
of union. The Indian was a common danger, demanding 
united action. Most celebrated of these conferences was the 
Albany congress of 1754, called to treat with the Six Nations, 
and to consider plans of union. Even a cursory reading of 
the plan proposed by the congress reveals the importance of 
the frontier. The powers of the general council and the officers 
were, chiefly, the determination of peace and war with the 
Indians, the regulation of Indian trade, the purchase of 

ix, 303, 327; Logan, History of Upper South Carolina, vol. i; McDonald, 
Life of Kenton, p. 72. 

1 On the effect of the fur trade in opening the routes of migration, see the 
author's Character and Influence of the I)ulian Trade in Wisconsin. 


Indian lands, and the creation and government of new settle- 
ments as a security against the Indians. It is evident that 
the unifying tendencies of the Revolutionary period were 
facilitated by the previous cooperation in the regulation of 
the frontier. In this connection may be mentioned the 
importance of the Indian frontier in the modification of 
western institutions and character, and particularly, as a 
military training school, keeping alive the power of resistance 
to aggression, and developing the stalwart and rugged qualities 
of the frontiersman. If the reader will compare the names of 
the officers whose exploits at Santiago and at Manila are 
now in everybody's mouth, with the names of the officers in 
the Indian fighting of the United States, he will understand 
better the importance of this aspect of the frontier.^ 

The Rancher's Frontier 

It would not be possible in the limits of this paper to trace 
the other frontiers across the continent. At the close of the 
seventeenth century in Virginia we find vast droves of wild 
horses and cattle, with typical ranch life and customs. Similar 
conditions existed in other parts of the coast area.^ Travelers 
of the eighteenth century found the "cow pens" among the 
canebrakes and pea- vine pastures of the South, and the "cow 
drivers" took their droves to Charleston, Philadelphia, and 
New York.^ Travelers at the close of the War of 1812 met 
droves of more than a thousand cattle and swine from the 
interior of Ohio going to Pennsylvania to fatten for the Phila- 

1 Colonel Leonard Wood, for example, in the Geronimo campaign under 
Lawton in 1886, added to his duties as surgeon the command of the in- 
fantry. Cf. Century Magazine, July, 1891, p. 369, and Scribner's Magazine, 
January, 1899, pp. 3-20. 

^ Cf. Bruce, Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century, i, 
473-477, 540; Weeden, Economic and Social History of New England, i, 
100, 128; Doyle, Puritan Colonies, ii, 19-23, 46-47. 

^ Lodge, English Colonies, p. 152 and citations; Logan, History of Upper 
South Carolina, i, 151. 


delphia market.^ The ranges of the Great Plains, with ranch 
and cowboy and nomadic life, are things of yesterday and of 
to-day.^ The experience of the Carolina cow pens guided the 
ranchers of Texas. One element favoring the rapid extension 
of the rancher's frontier is the fact that in a remote country 
lacking transportation facilities the product must be in small 
bulk, or must be able to transport itself, and the cattle raiser 
could easily drive his product to market. The effect of these 
great ranches on the subsequent agrarian history of the locali- 
ties in which they existed should be studied. 

The Farmer's Frontier 

The maps of the census reports show an uneven advance 
of the farmer's frontier, with tongues of settlement pushed 
forward and with indentations of wilderness. In part this 
is due to Indian resistance, in part to the location of river 
valleys and passes, in part to the unequal force of the centers 
of frontier attraction. Among the important centers of 
attraction may be mentioned the following: fertile and favor-, 
ably situated soils, salt springs, mines, and army posts, ^ 

Army Posts 

The frontier army post, serving to protect the settlers from 
the Indians, has also acted as a wedge to open the Indian 
country, and has been a nucleus for settlement.^ In this 
connection mention should also be made of the government 
military and exploring expeditions in determining the lines 
of settlement. But all the more important expeditions were 
greatly indebted to the earliest pathmakers, the Indian 

^ Flint, Recollections, p. 9. 

^ See Wister, "Evolution of the Cow Puncher," in Harper's Magazine, 
September, 1895; Hough, Story of the Cow Boy; Roosevelt, Ranch Life and 
the Hunting Trail. 

' Cf. Hening's Statutes, ii, 433, 448; iii, 204; Benton's View, i, 102; ii, 
70, 167; Monette, Mississippi Valley, i, 344. 


guides, the traders and trappers, and the French voyageurs, 
who were inevitable parts of governmental expeditions from 
the days of Lewis and Clark. Each expedition was an epitome 
of the previous factors in western advance. 

Salt Springs 

In an interesting monograph, Victor Hehn ^ has traced the 
effect of salt upon early European development, and has 
pointed out how it affected the lines of settlement and the 
form of administration. A similar study might be made for 
the salt springs of the United States. The early settlers were 
tied to the coast by the need of salt, without which they could 
not preserve their meats or live in comfort. Writing in 1752, 
Bishop Spangenburg says of a colony for which he was seeking 
lands in North Carolina: "They will require salt & other 
necessaries which they can neither manufacture nor raise. 
Either they must go to Charleston, which is 300 miles distant. 
... Or else they must go to Boling's Point in V* on a 
branch of the James & is also 300 miles from here ... Or 
else they must go down the Roanoke — I know not how many 
miles — where salt is brought up from the Cape Fear." ^ 
This may serve as a typical illustration. An annual pilgrim- 
age to the coast for salt thus became essential. Taking flocks 
or furs and ginseng root, the early settlers sent their pack 
trains after seeding time each year to the coast.^ This proved 
to be an important educational influence, since it was almost 
the only way in which the pioneer learned what was going 
on in the East. But when discovery was made of the salt 
springs of the Kanawha, and the Holston, and Kentucky,* 

^ Hehn, Das Sah p3erlin, 18733. 

^ Colonial Records of North Carolina, v, 3. 

^ Findley, History of the Insurrection in the Four Western Counties of 
Pennsylvania in the Year 1794, p. 35 [Philadelphia, 1796]. 

* See also McGee's paper on potable springs, as affecting settlement, in 
the Fourteenth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey, Part ii, 
p. 9. 


and central New York, the West began to be freed from 
dependence on the coast. It was in part the effect of find- 
ing these salt springs that enabled settlement to cross the 


The exploitation of the beasts took hunter and trader to 
the West, the exploitation of the grasses took the rancher 
West, and the exploitation of the virgin soil of the river 
valleys and prairies attracted the farmer. Good soils have 
been the most continuous attraction to the farmer's frontier. 
When the science of physiography is more completely related 
to the study of our history it will be seen how dependent that 
history was upon the forces that carved out the limestone 
valleys and deposited alluvial soils along the river courses. 
The land hunger of the Virginians drew them down the rivers 
into Carolina, in early colonial days; the pursuit of good soil 
took the Massachusetts men to Pennsylvania and to New 
York. As the eastern lands were taken up migration flowed 
across them to the West. Daniel Boone, the great back- 
woodsman, who combined the occupations of hunter, trader, 
cattle raiser, farmer, and surveyor — learning, probably from 
the traders, of the fertility of the lands on the upper Yadkin, 
where the traders were wont to rest as they took their way 
to the Indians — left his Pennsylvania home with his father, 
and passed down the Great Valley road to that stream. Learn- 
ing from a trader whose posts were on the Red river in Ken- 
tucky of its game and rich pastures, he pioneered the way 
for the farmers to that region. Thence he passed to the 
frontier of Missouri, where his settlement was long a land- 
mark on the frontier. Here again he helped to open the way 
for civilization, finding salt licks and trails and land. His 
son was among the earliest trappers in the passes of the Rocky 
mountains, and his party is said to have been the first to camp 
on the present site of Denver. His grandson, Colonel A. J. 


Boone of Colorado, was a power among the Indians of the 
Rocky Mountains, and was appointed an agent by the gov- 
ernment. Kit Carson's mother was a Boone.^ Thus this 
family epitomizes the backwoodsman's advance across the 

The farmer's advance came in a distinct series of waves. 
In Peck's New Guide to the West, published in Boston in 1837, 
occurs this suggestive passage: 

Generally, in all the western settlements, three classes, like the waves of 
the ocean, have rolled one after the other. First comes the pioneer, who 
depends for the subsistence of his family chiefly upon the natural growth 
of vegetation, called the "range," and the proceeds of hunting. His imple- 
ments of agriculture are rude, chiefly of his own make, and his efforts 
directed mainly to a crop of corn. and a "truck patch." The last is a rude 
garden for growing cabbage, beans, corn for roasting ears, cucumbers, and 
potatoes. A log cabin, and, occasionally, a stable and corncrib, and a field 
of a dozen acres, the timber girdled or "deadened," and fenced, are enough 
for his occupancy. It is quite immaterial whether he ever becomes the 
owner of the soil. He is the occupant for the time being, pays no rent, and 
feels as independent as the "lord of the manor." With a horse, cow, and 
one or two breeders of swine, he strikes into the woods with his family, 
and becomes the founder of a new country, or perhaps state. He builds 
his cabin, gathers around him a few other families of similar tastes and 
habits, and occupies until the range is somewhat subdued, and hunting a 
little precarious, or, which is more frequently the case, tUl the neighbors 
crowd around, roads, bridges, and fields annoy him, and he lacks elbow 
room. The preemption law enables liim to dispose of his cabin and corn- 
field to the next class of emigrants; and, to employ his own figures, he 
"breaks for the high timber," "clears out for the New Purchase," or migrates 
to Arkansas or Texas, to work the same process over. 

The next class of emigrants purchase the lands, add field to field, clear 
out the roads, throw rough bridges over the streams, put up hewn log 
houses with glass windows and brick or stone chimneys, occasionally plant 
orchards, build mills, schoolhouses, etc., and exhibit the picture and forms 
of plain, frugal, civiUzed hfe. 

Another wave rolls on. The men of capital and enterprise come. The 
settler is ready to sell out and take the advantage of the rise in property, 
push farther into the interior, and become, himself, a man of capital and 

^ Hale, Daniel Boone (pamphlet). 


enterprise in turn. The small village rises to a spacious town or city; 
substantial edifices of brick, extensive fields, orchards, gardens, colleges, and 
churches are seen. Broadcloths, sUks, leghorns, crapes, and all the refine- 
ments, luxuries, elegancies, frivolities, and fashions are in vogue. Thus 
wave after wave is roUing westward; the real Eldorado is stUl further on. 

A portion of the two first classes remain stationary amidst the general 
movement, improve their habits and condition, and rise in the scale of 

The writer has traveled much amongst the first class, the real pioneers. 
He has Uved many years in coimection with second grade; and now the 
third wave is sweeping over large districts of Indiana, lUinois, and Missouri. 
Migration has become almost a habit in the West. Hundreds of men can 
be found, not over fifty years of age, who have settled for the fourth, fifth, 
or skth time on a new spot. To sell out and remove only a few hundred 
miles makes up a portion of the variety of backwoods life and manners.^ 

Omitting those of the pioneer farmers who move from the 
love of adventure, the advance of the more steady farmer is 
easy to understand. Obviously the immigrant was attracted 
by the cheap lands of the frontier, and even the native farmer 
felt their influence strongly. Year by year the farmers who 
lived on soil whose returns were diminished by unrotated 
crops were offered the virgin soil of the frontier at nominal 
prices. Their growing families demanded more lands, and 
these were dear. The competition of the unexhausted, cheap, 
and easily tilled prairie lands compelled the farmer either to 
go West and continue the exhaustion of the soil on a new 
frontier, or to adopt intensive culture. Thus the census of 
1890 shows, in the Northwest, many counties in which there 
is an absolute or a relative decrease of population. These 
states have been sending farmers to advance the frontier on 

' Cf. Baily, Tour in the Unsettled Parts of North America, pp. 217-219 
[London, 1856], where a similar analysis is made for 1796. See also Collot, 
Journey in North America, p. 109 [Paris, 1826]; Observations on the North 
American Land Company, pp. xv, 144 [London, 1796]; Logan, History of 
Upper South Carolina; Murat, Moral and Political Sketch of the United States 
[London, 1833] (also under the title America and Americans [New 
York, 1849]); Dwight, Travels, 11,459; iv, 32; Roosevelt, Winning of tJie 
West, iii, 5. 


the plains, and have themselves begun to turn to intensive 
farming and to manufacture. A decade before this, Ohio 
had shown the same transition stage. The demand for land 
and the love of wilderness freedom drew the frontier ever 
onward. The sectional aspects of the agricultural frontier 
demand historical study. The United States Department of 
Agriculture has published two bulletins (Nos. lo and ii, of 
the Division of Biological Survey), which give maps showing 
the Life Zones and Crop Zones of the United States, and the 
Geographic Distribution of Cereals in North America. The 
census volume on agriculture contains other maps showing 
the distribution of various crops and products. As the 
farmer's frontier advanced westward it reached and traversed 
these natural physiographic areas. The history of the farmer's 
frontier is in part a history of the struggle between these 
natural conditions and the custom of the farmer to raise the 
crops and use the methods of the other regions which he has 
left. The tragedy of the occupation of the arid tract, where 
the optimism of the pioneer farmer met its first rude rebuff 
by nature itself, is a case in point. 

Having now roughly outlined the various kinds of frontiers, 
and their modes of advance, chiefly from the point of viev/ of 
the frontier itself, we next inquire what were the influences 
on the East and on the Old World. A rapid enumeration 
of some of the more noteworthy effects is all that I have 
space for. 

Composite Nationality 

First, we note that the frontier promoted the formation of 
a composite nationality for the American people. The coast 
was preponderantly English, but the later tides of continental 
immigration flowed across to the free lands. This was the 
case from the early colonial days. The Scotch-Irish and the 
Palatine-Germans, or "Pennsylvania Dutch," furnished the 
dominant element in the stock of the colonial frontier. With 


these peoples were also the freed indented servants, or re- 
demptioners, who, at the expiration of their time of service, 
passed to the frontier. Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, 
writes, in 171 7, "The inhabitants of our frontiers are com- 
posed generally of such as have been transported hither as 
servants, and, being out of their time, settle themselves 
where land is to be taken up and that will produce the neces- 
sarys of life with little labour." ^ Very generally these re- 
demptioners were of non-English stock. In the crucible of 
the frontier the immigrants were Americanized, liberated, 
and fused into a mixed race, English in neither nationality 
nor characteristics. The process has gone on from the early 
days to our own. Burke and other writers in the middle 
of the eighteenth century believed that Pennsylvania ^ was 
"threatened with the danger of being wholly foreign in lan- 
guage, manners, and perhaps even inclinations." The German 
and Scotch-Irish elements in the frontier of the South were 
only less great. In the middle of the present century the 
German element in Wisconsin was already so considerable 
that leading publicists looked to the creation of a German 
state out of the commonwealth by concentrating their coloni- 
zation.^ By the census of 1890 South Dakota had a per- 
centage of persons of foreign parentage to total population 
of sixty; Wisconsin, seventy- three; Minnesota, seventy-five; 
and North Dakota, seventy-nine. Such examples teach us 
to beware of misinterpreting the fact that there is a common 
English speech in America into a belief that the stock is also 

Industrial Independence 

In another way the advance of the frontier decreased our 
dependence on England. The coast, particularly of the South, 

^ Spotswood Papers, in Collections of Virginia Historical Society, vols, 
i, ii. 

2 Burke, European Settlements, etc. C1765 ed.], ii, 200. 
^ Everest, in Wisconsin Historical Collections, xii, 7 ff. 


lacked diversified industries, and was dependent on England 
for the bulk of its supplies. In the South there was even a 
dependence on the northern colonies for articles of food. 
Governor Glenn, of South Carolina, writes in the middle of 
the eighteenth century: "Our trade with New York and 
Philadelphia was of this sort, draining us of all the little 
money and bills we could gather from other places for their 
bread, flour, beer, hams, bacon, and other things of their 
produce, all which, except beer, our new townships began to 
supply us with, which are settled with very industrious and 
thriving Germans. This no doubt diminishes the number 
of shipping and the appearance of our trade, but it is far from 
being a detriment to us." ^ Before long the frontier created 
a demand for merchants. As it retreated from the coast it 
became less and less possible for England to bring her supplies 
directly to the consumers' wharves, and carry away staple 
crops, and staple crops began to give way to diversified agri- 
culture for a time. The effect of this phase of the frontier 
action upon the northern section is perceived when we realize 
how the advance of the frontier aroused seaboard cities like 
Boston, New York, and Baltimore, to engage in rivalry for 
what Washington called "the extensive and valuable trade 
of a rising empire." 

Effects on National Legislation 

The legislation which most developed the powers of the 
national government, and played the largest part in its activity, 
was conditioned on the frontier. Writers have discussed the 
subjects of tariff, land, and internal improvement as sub- 
sidiary to the slavery question. But when American history 
comes to be rightly viewed it will be seen that the slavery 
question is an incident. In the period from the end of the 
first half of the present century to the close of the Civil War 
slavery rose to primary, but far from exclusive, importance. 

^ Weston, Documents connected with History of South Carolina, p. 6i. 


But this does not justify Dr. von Hoist (to take an example) 
in treating our constitutional history in its formative period 
down to 1828 in a single volume, giving six volumes chiefly 
to the history of slavery from 1828 to 1861, under the title 
Constitutional History of the United States. The growth of 
nationalism and the evolution of American political institu- 
tions were dependent on the advance of the frontier. Even 
so recent a writer as Rhodes, in his history of the United 
States since the compromise of 1850, has treated the legislation 
called out by the western advance as incidental to the slavery 

This is a wrong perspective. The pioneer needed the goods 
of the coast, and so the grand series of internal improvement 
and railroad legislation began, with potent nationalizing 
effects. Over internal improvements occurred great debates, 
in which grave constitutional questions were discussed. 
Sectional groupings appear in the votes, profoundly significant 
for the historian.^ Loose construction increased as the nation 
marched westward.^ But the West was not content with 
bringing the farm to the factory. Under the lead of Clay 
— "Harry of the West" — protective tariffs were passed, 
with the cry of bringing the factory to the farm. The dis- 
position of the public lands was a third important subject of 
national legislation influenced by the frontier. 

Effects on Institutions 

It is hardly necessary to do more than mention the fact 
that the West was a field in which new political institutions 
were to be created. It offered a wide opportunity for specu- 
lative creation and for adjustment of old institutions to new 

' Cf. Libby, "Plea for the Study of Votes in Congress," in Report of 
American Historical Association for i8g6, p. 223; Turner, Rise of the New 
West, Introduction. 

* See, for example, the speech of Clay, in the House of Representatives, 
January 30, 1824. 


conditions. The study of the evolution of western institu- 
tions shows how slight was the proportion of actual theoretic 
invention of institutions; but there is abundance of oppor- 
tunity for study of the sources of the institutions actually 
chosen, the causes of the selection, the degree of transformation 
by the new conditions, and the new institutions actually 
produced by the new environment. 

The Public Domain 

The public domain has been a force of profound importance 
in the nationalization and development of the government. 
The effects of the struggle of the landed and the landless states, 
and of the ordinance of 1787, need no discussion.^ Admin- 
istratively the frontier called out some of the highest and 
most vitalizing activities of the general government. The 
purchase of Louisiana was perhaps the constitutional turning 
point in the history of the republic, inasmuch as it afforded 
both a new area for national legislation and the occasion of 
the downfall of the policy of strict construction. But the 
purchase of Louisiana was called out by frontier needs and 
demands. As frontier states accrued to the Union the national 
power grew. In a speech on the dedication of the Calhoun 
monument, Mr. Lamar explained, "In 1789 the states were 
the creators of the federal government; in i86j the federal 
government was the creator of a large majority of the states." 

When we consider the public domain from the point of 
view of the sale and disposal of the public lands,^ we are 
again brought face to face with the frontier. The policy of 
the United States in dealing with its lands is in sharp contrast 

1 See the admirable monograph by Professor H. B. Adams, Maryland's 
Influence on the Land Cessions; and also President Welling, in Papers Ameri- 
can Historical Association, iii, 411; Barrett, Evolution of the Ordinance of 


2 Sanborn, "Congressional Land Grants in Aid of Raikoads," Bulletin 
of the University of Wisconsin ; Donaldson, Public Domain. 


with the European system of scientific administration. Efforts 
to make this domain a source of revenue, and to withhold 
it from emigrants in order that settlement might be compact, 
were in vain. The jealousy and the fears of the East were 
powerless in the face of the demands of the frontiersmen. 
John Quincy Adams was obliged to confess: "My own system 
of administration, which was to make the national domain 
the inexhaustible fund for progressive and unceasing internal 
improvement, has failed." The reason is obvious; a system 
of administration was not what the West demanded; it wanted 
land. Adams states the situation as follows: "The slave- 
holders of the South have bought the cooperation of the 
western country by the bribe of the western lands, abandon- 
ing to the new western states their own proportion of the 
public property and aiding them in the design of grasping all 
the lands into their own hands. Thomas H. Benton was the 
author of this system, which he brought forward as a substi- 
tute for the American system of Mr. Clay, and to supplant 
him as the leading statesman of the West. Mr. Clay, by 
his tariff compromise with Mr. Calhoun, abandoned his own 
American system. At the same time he brought forward a 
plan for distributing among all the states of the Union the 
proceeds of the sales of the public lands. His bill for that 
purpose passed both houses of Congress, but was vetoed by 
President Jackson, who, in his annual message of December, 
1832, formally recommended that all public lands should be 
gratuitously given away to individual adventurers and to the 
states in which the lands are situated.^ 

"No subject," said Henry Clay, "which has presented itself 
to the present, or perhaps any preceding, Congress, is of greater 
magnitude than that of the public lands." When we consider 
the far-reaching effecis of the government's land policy upon 
political, economic, and social aspects of American life, we 
are disposed to agree with him. But this legislation was 
* J. Q. Adams, Memoirs, ix, 247, 248. 


framed under frontier influences, and under the lead of west- 
ern statesmen like Benton and Jackson. Said Senator Scott, 
of Indiana, in 1841: "I consider the preemption law merely 
declaratory of the custom or common law of the settlers." 

National Tendencies of the Frontier 

It is safe to say that the legislation with regard to land, 
tariff, and internal improvements — the American system of 
the nationalizing Whig party — was conditioned on frontier 
ideas and needs. But it was not merely in legislative action 
that the frontier worked against the sectionalism of the coast. 
The economic and social characteristics of the frontier worked 
against sectionalism. The men of the frontier had closer re- 
semblances to the middle region than to either of the other 
sections. Pennsylvania had been the seed plot of southern 
frontier emigration, and although she passed on her settlers 
along the Great Valley into the west of Virginia and the Caro- 
linas, yet the industrial society of these southern frontiersmen 
was always more like that of the middle region than like that 
of the tide-water portion of the South, which later came to 
spread its industrial type throughout the South. 

The middle region, entered by New York harbor, was an 
open door to all Europe. The tide-water part of the South 
represented typical Enghshmen, modified by a warm climate 
and servile labor, and living in baronial fashion on great 
plantations; New England stood for a special EngHsh move- 
ment, — Puritanism. The middle region was less EngHsh 
than the other sections. It had a wide mixture of nationalities, 
a varied society, the mixed town and county system of local 
government, a varied economic life, many religious sects. 
In short, it was a region mediating between New England 
and the South, and the East and the West. It represented 
the composite nationality which the contemporary United 
States exhibits, that juxtaposition of non-Enghsh groups, 
occupying a valley or a little settlement, and presenting 


reflections of the map of Europe in their variety. It was 
democratic and non-sectional, if not national; "easy, tolerant, 
and contented"; rooted strongly in material prosperity. 
It was typical of the modern United States. It was least 
sectional, not only because it lay between North and South, 
but also because with no barriers to shut out its frontiers from 
its settled region, and with a system of connecting water- 
ways, the middle region mediated between East and West 
as well as between North and South. Thus it became the 
typically American region. Even the New Englander, who 
was shut out from the frontier by the middle region, tarrying 
in New York or Pennsylvania on his westward march, lost 
the acuteness of his sectionalism on the way.^ 

Moreover, it must be recalled that the western and central 
New England settler who furnished the western movement 
was not the typical tide- water New Englander: he was less 
conservative and contented, more democratic and restless. 

The spread of cotton culture into the interior of the South 
finally broke down the contrast between the "tide- water" 
region and the rest of the South, and based southern interests 
on slavery. Before this process revealed its results, the 
western portion of the South, which was akin to Pennsyl- 
vania in stock, society, and industry, showed tendencies to 
fall away from the faith of the fathers into internal improve- 
ment legislation and nationalism. In the Virginia convention 
of 1 8 29-1 830, called to revise the constitution, Mr. Leigh, of 
Chesterfield, one of the tide- water counties, declared: 

One of the main causes of discontent which led to this convention, 
that which had the strongest influence in overcoming our veneration 
for the work of our fathers, which taught us to contemn the senti- 
ments of Henry and Mason and Pendleton, which weaned us from our 
reverence for the constituted authorities of the state, was an over- 
weening passion for internal improvement. I say this with perfect 
knowledge, for it has been avowed to me by gentlemen from the West 

1 Author's article in The /Egis [Madison, Wis.], November 4, 1892, and 
Atlantic Monthly, September, 1896, p. 294, and April, 1897, pp. 436, 441, 442. 


over and over again. And let me tell the gentleman from Albemarle 
(Mr. Gordon) that it has been another principal object of those who 
set this ball of revolution in motion, to overturn the doctrine of state 
rights, of which Virginia has been the very pillar, and to remove the 
barrier she has interposed to the interference of the federal govern- 
ment in that same work of internal improvement, by so reorganizing 
the legislature that Virginia, too, may be hitched to the federal car. 

It was this nationalizing tendency of the West that trans- 
formed the democracy of Jefferson into the national repub- 
licanism of Monroe and the democracy of Andrew Jackson. 
The West of the War of 1812, the West of Clay and Benton 
and Harrison and Andrew Jackson, shut off by the Middle 
States and the mountains from the coast sections, had a 
solidarity of its own with national tendencies.^ On the tide 
of the Father of Waters, North and South met and mingled 
into a nation. Interstate migration went steadily on, — a 
process of cross-fertilization of ideas and institutions. The 
fierce struggle of the sections over slavery on the western 
frontier does not diminish the truth of this statement; it 
proves the truth of it. Slavery was a sectional trait that 
would not down, but in the West it could not remain sectional. 
It was the greatest of frontiersmen who declared: "I believe 
this government cannot endure permanently half slave and 
half free. It will become all of one thing or all of the other." 
Nothing works for nationalism like intercourse within the 
nation. Mobility of population is death to localism, and the 
western frontier worked irresistibly in unsettling population. 
The effects reached back from the frontier, and affected 
profoundly the Atlantic coast and even the Old World. 

Growth of Democracy 

But the most important effect of the frontier has been in 
the promotion of democracy here and in Europe. As has 
been indicated, the frontier is productive of individualism. 

^ Cf. Roosevelt, Thomas Benton, chap. i. 


Complex society is precipitated by the wilderness into a kind 
of primitive organization based on the family. The tendency 
is anti-social. It produces antipathy to control, and par- 
ticularly to any direct control. The taxgatherer is viewed 
as a representative of oppression. Professor Osgood, in an 
able article,^ has pointed out that the frontier conditions 
prevalent in the colonies are important factors in the expla- 
nation of the American Revolution, where individual liberty 
was sometimes confused with absence of all effective govern- 
ment. The same conditions aid in explaining the difficulty 
of instituting a strong government in the period of the Con- 
federacy. The frontier individualism has from the beginning 
promoted democracy. 

The frontier states that came into the Union in the first 
quarter of a century of its existence came in with democratic 
suffrage provisions, and had reactive effects of the highest 
importance upon the older states whose peoples were being 
attracted there. An extension of the franchise became 
essential. It was western New York that forced an extension 
of suffrage in the constitutional convention of that state in 
1 821; and it was western Virginia that compelled the tide- 
water region to put a more liberal suffrage provision in the 
constitution framed in 1830, and to give to the frontier region 
a more nearly proportionate representation with the tide- 
water aristocracy. The rise of democracy as an effective 
force in the nation came in with western preponderance under 
Jackson and William Henry Harrison, and it meant the 
triumph of the frontier — with all of its good and with all 
of its evil element. 2 An interesting illustration of the tone of 
frontier democracy in 1830 comes from the same debates in 
the Virginia convention already referred to. A representative 
from western Virginia declared: 

^ Political Science Quarterly, ii, 457; Sumner, Alexander Hamilton, chaps, 
ii-vii; Turner, in Atlantic Monthly, January, 1903. 
2 Cf. Wilson, Division and Reunion, pp. 15, 24. 


But, sir, it is not the increase of population in the West which this 
gentleman ought to fear. It is the energy which the mountain breeze 
and western habits impart to those emigrants. They are regenerated, 
pohtically I mean, sir. They soon become working politicians; and 
the difference, sir, between a talking and a working politician is im- 
mense. The Old Dominion has long been celebrated for producing 
great orators; the ablest metaphysicians in policy; men that can split 
hairs in all abstruse questions of political economy. But at home, or 
when they return from Congress, they have negroes to fan them asleep. 
But a Pennsylvania, a New York, an Ohio, or a western Virginia 
statesman, though far inferior in logic, metaphysics, and rhetoric to 
an old Virginia statesman, has this advantage, that when he returns 
home he takes off his coat and takes hold of the plow. This gives 
him bone and muscle, sir, and preserves his republican principles pure 
and uncontaminated. 

So long as free land exists, the opportunity for a competency 
exists, and economic power secures political power. But the 
democracy born of free land, strong in selfishness and individ- 
ualism, intolerant of adm.inistrative experience and education, 
and pressing individual liberty beyond its proper bounds, 
has its dangers as. well as its benefits. Individualism in 
America has allowed a laxity in regard to governmental 
affairs which has rendered possible the spoils system and all 
the manifest evils that follow from the lack of a highly devel- 
oped civic spirit. In this connection may be noted also the 
influence of frontier conditions in permitting inflated paper 
currency and wild-cat banking. The colonial and revolu- 
tionary frontier was the region whence emanated many of 
the worst forms of paper currency.^ The West in the War of 
181 2 repeated the phenomenon on the frontier of that day, 
while the speculation and wild-cat banking of the period of 
the crisis of 1837 occurred on the new frontier belt of the next 
tier of states. Thus each one of the periods of paper-money 
projects coincides with periods when a new set of frontier 
communities had arisen, and coincides in area with these 

^ On the relation of frontier conditions to Revolutionary taxation, see 
Sumner, Alexartder Hamilton, chap. iii. 


successive frontiers, for the most part. The recent radical 
Populist agitation is a case in point. Many a state that now 
declines any connection with the tenets of the Populists 
itself adhered to such ideas in an earlier stage of the develop- 
ment of the state. A primitive society can hardly be expected 
to show the appreciation of the complexity of business interests 
in a developed society. The continual recurrence of these 
areas of paper-money agitation is another evidence that the 
frontier can be isolated and studied as a factor in American 
history of the highest importance. 

Attempts to Check and Regulate the Frontier 

The East has always feared the result of an unregulated 
advance of the frontier, and has tried to check and guide it. 
The English authorities would have checked settlement at 
the head waters of the Atlantic tributaries and allowed the 
"savages to enjoy their deserts in quiet lest the peltry trade 
should decrease." This called out Burke's splendid protest: 

If you stopped your grants, what would be the consequence? The 
people would occupy without grants. They have already so occupied 
in many places. You cannot station garrisons in every part of these 
deserts. If you drive the people from one place, they will carry on 
their annual tillage and remove with their flocks and herds to another. 
Many of the people in the back settlements are already little attached 
to particular situations. Already they have topped the Appalachian 
mountains. From thence they behold before them an immense plain, 
one vast, rich, level meadow; a square of five hundred miles. Over 
this they would wander without a possibility of restraint; they would 
change their manners with their habits of life; they would soon forget 
a government by which they were disowned; would become hordes 
of English Tartars; and, pouring down upon your unfortified frontiers 
a fierce and irresistible cavalry, become masters of your governors 
and your counselors, your collectors and comptrollers, and of all the 
slaves that adhered to them. Such would, and in no long time must, 
be the attempt to forbid as a crime and to suppress as an evil 
the command and blessing of Providence, "increase and multiply." 
Such would be the happy result of an endeavor to keep as a lair of 


wild beasts that earth which God, by an express charter, has given 
to the children of men. 

But the English government was not alone in its desire 
to limit the advance of the frontier and guide its destinies. 
Tide-water Virginia ^ and South Carolina ^ gerrymandered 
those colonies to insure the dominance of the coast in their 
legislatures. Washington desired to settle a state at a time 
in the Northwest. In the constitutional convention of 1787 
Gouverneur Morris declared that the western country would 
not be able to furnish men equally enlightened to share in 
the administration of our common interests. The busy 
haunts of men, not the remote wilderness, was the proper 
school of political talents. "If the western people get power 
into their hands, they will ruin the Atlantic interest. The 
back members are always most averse to the best measures." 
He desired, therefore, to fix such a rule of congressional repre- 
sentation that the Atlantic States could always outvote the 
Western.^ Jefferson would reserve from settlement the terri- 
tory of his Louisiana purchase north of the thirty-second 
parallel, in order to offer it to the Indians in exchange for their 
settlements east of the Mississippi. "When we shall be full 
on this side," he writes, "we may lay off a range of states on 
the western bank from the head to the mouth, and so range 
after range, advancing compactly as we multiply." Madison 
went so far as to argue to the French minister that the United 
States had no interest in seeing population extend itself on 
the right bank of the Mississippi, but should rather fear it. 
When the Oregon question was under debate, in 1842, Smyth, 
of Virginia, would draw an unchangeable line for the limits 
of the United States at the outer limit of two tiers of states 

' Debates in the Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1829-1830. 

^ Calhoun, Works, i, 401-406. 

^ Elliot's Debates, v, 298. Cf. Josiah Quincy's outburst in the House 
of Representatives on the admission of Louisiana, January 14, 181 1. See 
Johnston, American Orations, i, 145. 


beyond the Mississippi, complaining that the seaboard states 
were being drained of the flower of their population by the 
bringing of too much land into market. Even Thomas Benton, 
the man of widest views of the destiny of the West, at this 
stage of his career declared that along the ridge of the Rocky 
mountains " the western limits of the republic should be drawn, 
and the statue of the fabled god Terminus should be raised 
upon its highest peak, never to be thrown down." ^ But 
the attempts to limit the boundaries, to restrict land sales 
and settlement, and to deprive the West of its share of political 
power were all in vain. Steadily the frontier of settlement 
advanced and carried with it individualism, democracy, and 
nationalism, and powerfully affected the East and the Old 

Religious Organization 

The most effective efforts of the East to regulate the frontier 
came through its educational and religious activity, exerted 
by interstate migration and by organized societies. Speaking, 
in 1835, Dr. Lyman Beecher declared: "It is equally plain that 
the religious and political destiny of our nation is to be decided 
in the West," and he pointed out that the population of the 
West "is assembled from all the states of the Union and from 
all the nations of Europe, and is rushing in like the waters 
of the flood, demanding for its moral preservation the imme- 
diate and universal action of those institutions which dis- 
cipline the mind and arm, the conscience and the heart. And 
so various are the opinions and habits, and so recent and 
imperfect is the acquaintance, and so sparse are the settle- 
ments of the West, that no homogeneous public sentiment 
can be formed to legislate immediately into being the requisite 
institutions. And yet they are all needed immediately in 
their utmost perfection and power. A nation is being 'born 
in a day.' . . . But what will become of the West if her 

' Speech in the Senate, March i, 1825; Register of Debates, i, 721. 


prosperity rushes up to such a majesty of power, while those 
great institutions linger which are necessary to form the mind 
and the conscience and the heart of that vast world? It 
must not be permitted. . . . Let no man in the East quiet 
himself and dream of liberty, whatever may become of the 
West. . . . Her destiny is our destiny." 

With the appeal to the conscience of New England, he 
adds appeals to her fears lest other religious sects anticipate 
her own. The New England preacher and the school-teacher 
left their mark on the West. The dread of western emanci- 
pation from New England's political and economic control 
was paralleled by her fears lest the West cut loose from her 
religion. Commenting, in 1850, on reports that settlement 
was rapidly extending northward in Wisconsin, the editor 
of the Home Missionary writes: "We scarcely know whether 
to rejoice or mourn over this extension of our settlements. 
While we sympathize in whatever tends to increase the phys- 
ical resources and prosperity of our country, we cannot forget 
that with all these -dispersions into remote and still remoter 
corners of the land the supply of the means of grace is becom- 
ing relatively less and less." Acting in accordance with such 
ideas, home missions were established and western colleges 
were erected. As seaboard cities like Philadelphia, New York, 
and Baltimore strove for the mastery of western trade, so 
the various denominations strove for the possession of the 
West. Thus an intellectual stream from New England 
sources fertilized the West. Other sections sent their mis- 
sionaries; but the real struggle was between sects. The con- 
test for power and the expansive tendency furnished to the 
various sects by the existence of a moving frontier had im- 
portant results on the character of religious organization in 
the United States. The multiplication of rival churches in 
the little frontier towns had deep and lasting social effects. 
The effects of western freedom and newness in producing 
religious isms is noteworthy. Illustrations of this tendency 


may be seen in the development of the Millerites, Spiritualists, 
and Mormons of western New York in its frontier days. In 
general the religious aspects of the frontier deserved study. 

Intellectual Traits 

From the conditions of frontier life came intellectual traits 
of profound importance. The works of travelers along each 
frontier from colonial days onward describe certain common 
traits, and these traits have, while softening down, still per- 
sisted as survivals in the place of their origin, even when a 
higher social organization succeeded. The result is that to the 
frontier the American intellect owes its striking characteristics. 
That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and 
inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick 
to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things, 
lacking in the artistic, but powerful to effect great ends; 
that restless, nervous energy; ^ that dominant individuahsm, 
working for good and for evil, and, withal, that buoyancy 
and exuberance which come with freedom, — these are traits 
of the frontier, or traits called out elsewhere because of the 
existence of the frontier. We are not easily aware of the deep 
influence of this individualistic way of thinking upon our 
present conditions. It persists in the midst of a society that 
has passed away from the conditions that occasioned it. It 
makes it difficult to secure social regulation of business enter- 
prises that are essentially public; it is a stumbling-block 
in the way of civil-service reform; it permeates our doctrines 

1 Colonial travelers agree in remarking on the phlegmatic characteristics 
of the colonists. It has frequently been asked how such a people could 
have developed that strained ner\'ous energy now characteristic of them. 
Cf. Sumner, Alexmxder Hamilton, p. 98, and Adams, History of the United 
States, i, 60; ix, 240, 241. The transition appears to become marked at 
the close of the War of 181 2, a period when interest centered upon the 
development of the West, and the West was noted for restless energy. — 
Grund, Americans, ii, i. 


of education; ^ but with the passing of the free lands a vast 
extension of the social tendency may be expected in America. 
Ratzel, the well-known geographer, has pointed out the 
fact that for centuries the great unoccupied area of America 
furnished to the American spirit something of its own largeness. 
It has given a largeness of design and an optimism to American 
thought.^ Since the days when the fleet of Columbus sailed 
into the waters of the New World, America has been another 
name for opportunity, and the people of the United States 
have taken their tone from the incessant expansion which has 
not only been open, but has even been forced upon them. He 
would be a rash prophet who should assert that the expansive 
character of American life has now entirely ceased. Move- 
ment has been its dominant fact, and, unless this training 
has no effect upon a people, the American energy will contin- 
ually demand a wider field for its exercise.^ But never again 
will such gifts of free land offer themselves. For a moment, 
at the frontier, the bonds of custom are broken and unrestraint 
is triumphant. There is not tabula rasa. The stubborn 
American environment is there with its imperious summons 
to accept its conditions; the inherited ways of doing things are 
also there; and yet, in spite of environment, and in spite of 
custom, each frontier did indeed furnish a new field of oppor- 
tunity, a gate of escape from the bondage of the past; and 
freshness, and confidence, and scorn of older society, impa- 
tience of its restraints and its ideas, and indifference to its 
lessons have accompanied the frontier. What the Mediter- 
ranean sea was to the Greeks, breaking the bond of custom, 

^ See the able paper by Professor De Garmo on "Social Aspects of 
Moral Education," in the Third Yearbook of the National Herbart Society, 
1897, p. 37- 

^ See paper on "The West as a Field for Historical Study," in Report of 
American Historical Association for i8g6, pp. 279-319. 

' The commentary upon this sentence — written in 1893 — hes in the 
recent history of Hawaii, Cuba, Porto Rico, the Philippines, and the Isth- 
mian Canal. 


oflfering new experiences, calling out new institutions and 
activities, that, and more, the ever-retreating frontier has 
been to the United States directly, and to the nations of 
Europe more remotely. And now, four centuries from the 
discovery of America, at the end of a hundred years of life 
under the Constitution, the frontier has gone, and with its 
going has closed the first period of American history. 


James Bryce 

One feature of thought and sentiment in the United States 
needs a chapter to itself because it has been by most observers 
of the country either ignored or confounded with a phenomenon 
which is at bottom quite different. This is a fatalistic atti- 
tude of mind, which, since it disposes men to acquiesce in 
the rule of numbers, has been, when perceived, attributed 
to or identified with what is commonly called the Tyranny of 
the Majority. The tendency to fatalism is never far from 
mankind. It is one of the first solutions of the riddle of the 
earth propounded by metaphysics. It is one of the last 
propounded by science. It has at all times formed the back- 
ground to religions. No race is naturally less disposed to 
a fatalistic view of things than is the Anglo-American, with 
its restless self-reliant energy, 

Nil actum reputans dum quid restaret agendum, 

its slender taste for introspection or meditation. Never- 
theless even in this people the conditions of life and politics 
have bred a sentiment or tendency which seems best described 
by the name of fatalism. 

In small and rude communities, every free man, or at least 
every head of a household, feels his own significance and real- 
izes his own independence. He relies on himself, he is little 
interfered with by neighbours or rulers.^ His will and his 

' From The American Commonwealth (1889 Edition), vol. ii, chap. Ixxxiv, 
pp. 297-306; copyright. Reprinted by permission of the Macmillan Com- 

^ The kind of self-reliant attitude I am seeking to describe is quite a 
different thing from the supposed "state of nature" in which a man has 


action count for something in the conduct of the affairs of 
the community he belongs to, yet common affairs are few 
compared to those in which he must depend on his own 
exertions. The most striking pictures of individuahsm that 
literature has preserved for us are those of the Homeric 
heroes, and of the even more terrible and self-reliant warriors 
of the Scandinavian sagas, men like Ragnar Lodbrog and 
Egil, son of Skallagrim, who did not regard even the gods, 
but trusted to their own might and main. In more de- 
veloped states of society organized on an oligarchic basis, 
such as were the feudal kingdoms of the Middle Ages, or 
in socially aristocratic countries such as most parts of Europe 
have remained down to our own time, the bulk of the people 
are no doubt in a dependent condition, but each person de- 
rives a certain sense of personal consequence from the strength 
of his group and of the person or family at the head of it. 
Moreover, the upper class, being the class which thinks and 
writes, as well as leads in action, impresses its own type upon 
the character of the whole nation, and that type is still in- 
dividualistic, with a strong consciousness of personal free 
will, and a tendency for each man, if not to think for himself, at 
least to value and to rely on his own opinion. 

Let us suppose, however, that the aristocratic structure 
of society has been dissolved, that the old groups have dis- 
appeared, that men have come to feel themselves members 
rather of the nation than of classes, or groups, or communities 
within the nation, that a levelling process has destroyed the 
ascendency of birth and rank, that large landed estates no 
longer exist, and that many persons in what was previously 
the humbler class are found possessed of property. Under 
such conditions of social equality the habit of intellectual 
command and individual self-confidence will have vanished 

no legal relations with his fellows. It may e.xist among the members of 
a community closely united by legal ties. It was evidently strong among 
the early Romans, who were united bj' such tics into family and clan groups. 


from the leading class, which creates the type of national 
character, and will exist nowhere in the nation. 

Let us suppose, further, that political equality has gone 
hand in hand with the levelling down of social eminence. 
Every citizen enjoys the same right of electing the representa- 
tives and officials, the same right of himself becoming a repre- 
sentative or an official. Every one is equally concerned in 
the conduct of public affairs, and since no man's opinion, 
however great his superiority in wealth, knowledge, or personal 
capacity, is legally entitled to any more weight than another's, 
no man is entitled to set special value on his own opinion, or 
to expect others to defer to it; for pretensions to authority 
will be promptly resented. All disputes are referred to the 
determination of the majority, there being no legal distinction 
between the naturally strong and the naturally weak, between 
the rich and the poor, between the wise and the foolish. In 
such a state of things the strong man's self-confidence and sense 
of individual force will inevitably have been lowered, because 
he will feel that he- is only one of many, that his vote or voice 
counts for no more than that of his neighbour, that he can 
prevail, if at all, only by keeping himself on a level with his 
neighbour and recognizing the latter's personality as being 
every whit equal to his own. 

Suppose further that all this takes place in an enormously 
large and populous country, where the governing voters are 
counted by so many millions that each individual feels himself 
a mere drop in the ocean, the influence which he can exert 
privately, whether by his personal gifts or by his wealth, 
being confined to the small circle of his town or neighbour- 
hood. On all sides there stretches round him an inimitable 
horizon; and beneath the blue vault which covers that horizon 
there is everywhere the same busy multitude with its clamour 
of mingled voices which he hears close by. In this multitude 
his own being seems lost. He has the sense of insignificance 
which overwhelms us when at night we survey the host of 


heaven and know that from even the nearest star this planet 
of ours is invisible. 

In such a country, where complete political equality is 
strengthened and perfected by complete social equality, 
where the will of the majority is absolute, unquestioned, 
always invoked to decide every question, and where the 
numbers which decide are so vast that one comes to regard 
them as one regards the largely working forces of nature, 
we may expect to find certain feelings and beliefs dominant 
in the minds of men. 

One of these is that the majority must prevail. All free 
government rests on this, for there is no other way of work- 
ing free government. To obey the majority is therefore both 
a necessity and a duty, a duty because the alternative would 
be ruin and the breaking-up of laws. 

Out of this dogma there grows up another which is less 
distinctly admitted, and indeed held rather implicitly than 
consciously, that the majority is right. And out of both of 
these there grows again the feeling, still less consciously held, 
but not less truly operative, that it is vain to oppose or censure 
the majority. 

It may seem that there is a long step from the first of these 
propositions to the second and third; and that, in fact, the 
very existence of a minority striving with a majority implies 
that there must be many who hold the majority to be wrong, 
and are prepared to resist it. Men do not at once abandon 
their views because they have been outvoted; they reiterate 
their views, they reorganize their party, they hope to prevail, 
and often do prevail in a subsequent trial of strength. 

All this is doubtless involved in the very methods of popular 
government. But it is nevertheless true that the belief in 
the rights of the majority lies very near to the belief that the 
majority must be right. As self-government is based on the 
idea that each man is more likely to be right than to be wrong, 
and that one man's opinion must be treated as equally good 


with another's, there is a presumption that when twenty 
thousand vote one way and twenty-one thousand another, 
the view of the greater number is the better view. The habit 
of deference to a decision actually given strengthens this 
presumption, and weaves it into the texture of every mind. 
A conscientious citizen feels that he ought to obey the deter- 
mination of the majority, and naturally prefers to think that 
which he obeys to be right. A citizen languidly interested 
in the question at issue finds it easier to comply with and 
adopt the view of the majority than to hold out against it. 
A small number of men with strong convictions or warm 
party feeling will for a time resist. But even they feel dif- 
ferently towards their cause after it has been defeated from 
what they did while it had still a prospect of success. They 
know that in the same proportion in which their supporters 
are dismayed the majority is emboldened and confirmed in 
its views. It will be harder to fight a second battle than it 
was to fight the first, for there is (so to speak) a steeper slope 
of popular disapproval to be climbed. This sufficiently 
appears from the importance attached in self-governing 
countries to test elections. In England what is called a "by- 
election," i.e. the election of a member of Parliament to fill 
a casual vacancy, is not only taken by partisans as an index 
of their strength in the nation at large, but it if can be regarded 
as typical, strengthens or weakens a party by turning the 
minds of waverers. In the United States, when the elections 
in any State precede by a few weeks a presidential contest, 
their effect has sometimes been so great as virtually to deter- 
mine that contest by filling one side with hope and the other 
with despondency. Those who prefer to swim with the stream 
are numerous everywhere, and their votes have as much weight 
as the votes of the keenest partisans. A man of convictions 
may insist that the arguments on both sides are after the 
polling just what they were before. But the average man will 
repeat his arguments with less faith, less zeal, more of a secret 


fear that he may be wrong, than he did while the majority 
was still doubtful; and after every reassertion by the majority 
of its judgment, his knees grow feebler till at last they refuse 
to carry him into the combat. 

The larger the scale on which the majority works, the more 
potent are these tendencies. When the scene of action is a 
small commonwealth, the individual voters are many of them 
personally known to one another, and the causes which de- 
termine their votes are understood and discounted. When 
it is a moderately-sized country, the towns or districts which 
compose it are not too numerous for reckoning to overtake 
and imagination to picture them, and in many cases their 
action can be explained by well-known reasons which may be 
represented as transitory. But when the theatre stretches 
itself to a continent, the number of voters is counted by many 
millions, the wings of imagination droop, and the huge voting 
mass ceases to be thought of as merely so many individual 
human beings no wiser or better than one's own neighbours. 
The phenomena seem to pass into the category of the phe- 
nomena of nature, governed by far-reaching and inexorable 
laws whose character science has only imperfectly ascertained. 
They inspire a sort of awe, a sense of individual impotence, 
like that which man feels when he contemplates the majestic 
and eternal forces of the inanimate world. 

Such a feeling is still far stronger when it operates, not on 
a cohesive minority which had lately hoped, or may yet hope, 
to become a majority, but on a single man or small group of 
persons cherishing some opinion which the mass disapproves. 
Thus out of the mingled feelings that the multitude will pre- 
vail, and that the multitude, because it will prevail, must be 
right, there grows a self-distrust, a despondency, a disposition 
to fall into line, to acquiesce in the dominant opinion, to 
submit thought as well as action to the encompassing power 
of numbers. Now and then a resolute man will, like Atha- 
nasius, stand alone against the world. But such a man must 


have, like Athanasius, some special spring of inward strength; 
and the difficulty of winning over others against the over- 
whelming weight of the multitude will, even in such a man, 
dull the edge of hope and enterprise. An individual seeking 
to make his view prevail, looks forth on his hostile fellow- 
countrymen as a solitary swimmer, raised high on a billow 
miles from land, looks over the countless waves that divide 
him from the shore, and quails to think how small the chance 
that his strength can bear him thither. 

This tendency to acquiescence and submission, this sense 
of the insignificance of individual effort, this belief that the 
affairs of men are swayed by large forces whose movement 
may be studied but cannot be turned, I have ventured to 
call the Fatalism of the Multitude. It is often confounded 
with the tyranny of the majority, but is at bottom different, 
though, of course, its existence makes tyranny by the majority 
easier and more complete. The tyranny of the majority 
means, or ought to mean, for it is a phrase apt to be loosely 
used, the disposition of the greater number to unfairly impose 
their will on the smaller number. A majority is tyrannical 
when it cuts short the discussion needed to give the minority 
a fair chance of convincing it that it is wrong, or when it 
passes laws restricting individual freedom in matters which 
law need not touch, or even when it subjects to social penalties 
persons who disagree with it in matters not essential to the 
common welfare. But the fatalistic attitude I have been 
seeking to describe does not imply any exercise of power by 
the majority at all. It may rather seem to soften and make 
less odious such an exercise of power, may even dispense with 
that exercise, because it disposes a minority to submit with- 
out the need of a command, to spontaneously renounce its 
own view and fall in with the view which the majority has 
expressed. In the fatalism of the multitude there is neither 
legal nor moral compulsion; there is merely a loss of resisting 
power, a diminished sense of personal responsibility and of the 


duty to battle for one's own opinions, such as has been bred 
in some peoples by the belief in an overmastering fate. It is 
true that the force to which the citizen of the vast democracy 
submits is a moral force, not that of an unapproachable Allah, 
nor of the unchangeable laws of matter. But it is a moral 
force acting on so vast a scale, and from causes so often un- 
predictable, that its effect on the mind of the individual may 
well be compared with that which religious or scientific fatalism 

No one will suppose that the above sketch is intended to 
apply literally to the United States, where in some matters 
legal restrictions check a majority, where local self-govern- 
ment gives the humblest citizen a sphere for public action, 
where individualism is still in many forms and directions so 
vigorous. An American explorer, an American settler in new 
lands, an American man of business pushing a great enter- 
prise, is a being as bold and resourceful as the world has ever 
seen. All I seek to convey is that there are in the United 
States signs of such a fatalistic temper, signs which one must 
expect to find wherever a vast population governs itself under 
a system of complete social and political equality. And 
there exist in the American Republic several conditions which 
specially tend to engender such a temper. 

One of these is the unbounded freedom of discussion. Every 
view, every line of policy, has its fair chance before the people. 
No one can say that audience has been denied him, and 
comfort himself with the hope that, when he is heard, the world 
will come round to him. For the sense of grievance and in- 
justice, which so often feeds the flame of resistance in the 
persecuted minority, there is less cause in a country like this, 
where the freedom of the press, the right of public meeting, 
the right of association and agitation have been legally ex- 
tended, and are daily exerted, more widely than anywhere 
else in the world. He whom the multitude condemns or 
ignores has no further court of appeal to look to. Rome has 


spoken. His cause has been heard and judgment has gone 
against him. 

Another is the intense faith which the Americans have in 
the soundness of their institutions, and in the future of their 
country. Foreign critics have said that they think themselves 
the special objects of the protecting care of Providence. If 
this be so, it is matter neither for surprise nor for sarcasm. 
They are a religious people. They are trying, and that on the 
largest scale, the most remarkable experiment in government 
the world has yet witnessed. They have more than once 
been surrounded by perils which affrighted the stoutest 
hearts, and they have escaped from these perils into peace and 
prosperity. There is among pious persons a deep conviction 
— I have often heard it expressed in sermons and prayers 
with evident sincerity — that the nation has been, and is 
being, more than other nations, guided by the hand of God. 
And, even when the feeling does not take a theological expres- 
sion, the belief in what is called the " Mission of the Republic" 
for all humanity is' scarcely less ardent. But the foundation 
of the Republic is confidence in the multitude, in its honesty 
and good sense, in the certainty of its arriving at right con- 
clusions. Pessimism is the luxury of a handful; optimism 
is the private delight, as well as public profession, of nine 
hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand, for nowhere 
does the individual associate himself more constantly and 
directly with the greatness of his country. 

Now, such a faith in the people, and in the forces that sway 
them, disposes a man to acquiescence and submission. He 
cannot long hold that he is right and the multitude wrong. 
He cannot suppose that the country will ultimately suffer 
because it refuses to adopt what he urges upon it. As he 
comes of an energetic stock, he will use all proper means to 
state his views, and give them every chance of prevailing. 
But he submits more readily than an Englishman would do, 
ay, even to what an Englishman would think an injury to 


his private rights. When a man's legal right has been in- 
fringed, he will confidently proceed to enforce at law his 
claim to redress, knowing that even against the government 
a just cause will prevail. But if he fails at law, the sense of 
his individual insignificance will still his voice. It may seem 
a trivial illustration to observe that when a railway train is 
late, or a waggon drawn up opposite a warehouse door stops 
the horse-car for five minutes, the passengers take the delay 
far more coolly and uncomplainingly than Englishmen would 
do. But the feeling is the same as that which makes good 
citizens bear with the tyranny of Bosses. It is all in the 
course of nature. What is an individual that he should make 
a fuss because he loses a few minutes, or is taxed too highly? 
The sense of the immense multitude around him presses down 
the individual; and, after all, he reflects, " things will come out 
right" in the end. 

It is hard adequately to convey the impression which the 
vastness of the country, and the swift growth of its population 
make upon the European visitor. I well remember how it 
once came on me after climbing a high mountain in an Eastern 
State. All around was thick forest; but the setting sun 
lit up peaks sixty or seventy miles away, and flashed here and 
there on the windings of some river past a town so far off as 
to seem only a spot of white. I opened my map, a large map, 
which I had to spread upon the rocks to examine, and tried 
to make out, as one would have done in England or Scotland, 
the points in the view. The map however was useless, be- 
cause the whole area of the landscape beneath me covered 
only two or three square inches upon it. From such a height 
in Scotland the eye would have ranged from sea to sea. But 
here when one tried to reckon how many more equally wide 
stretches of landscape lay between this peak and the Missis- 
sippi, which is itself only a third of the way across the con- 
tinent, the calculation seemed endless and was soon abandoned. 
Many an Englishman comes by middle life to know nearly 


all England like a glove. He has travelled on all the great 
railroads; there is hardly a large town in which he has not 
acquaintances, hardly a county whose scenery is not familiar 
to him. But no American can be familiar with more than 
a small part of his country, for his country is a continent. 
And all Americans live their life through under the sense of 
this prodigious and daily growing multitude around them, 
which seems vaster the more you travel, and the more you 
realize its uniformity. 

We need not here inquire whether the fatalistic attitude 
I have sought to sketch is the source of more good or evil. It 
seems at any rate inevitable: nor does it fail to produce a 
sort of pleasure, for what the individual loses as an individ- 
ual he seems in a measure to regain as one of the multitude. 
If the individual is not strong, he is at any rate as strong as 
any one else. His will counts for as much as any other will. 
He is overborne by no superiority. Most men are fitter 
to make part of the multitude than to strive against it. 
Obedience is to most sweeter than independence; the Roman 
Catholic Church inspires in its children a stronger affection 
than any form of Protestantism, for she takes their souls in 
charge, and assures them that, with obedience, all will be well. 

That which we are presently concerned to note is how greatly 
such a tendency as I have described facilitates the action of 
opinion as a governing power, enabling it to prevail more 
swiftly and more completely than in countries where men have 
not yet learned to regard the voice of the multitude as the 
voice of fate. Many submit willingly; some unwillingly, 
yet they submit. Rarely does any one hold out and venture 
to tell the great majority of his countrymen that they are 

Moreover public opinion acquires a solidity which strength- 
ens the whole body politic. Questions on which the masses 
have made up their minds pass out of the region of practical 
discussion. Controversy is confined to minor topics, and 


however vehemently it may rage over these, it disturbs the 
great underlying matters of agreement no more than a tempest 
stirs the depths of the Atlantic. Public order becomes more 
easily maintained, because individuals and small groups have 
learned to submit even when they feel themselves aggrieved. 
The man who murmurs against the world, who continues to 
preach a hopeless cause, incurs contempt, and is apt to be 
treated as a sort of lunatic. He who is too wise to murmur 
and too proud to go on preaching to unheeding ears, comes 
to think that if his doctrine is true, yet the time is not ripe 
for it. He may be in error; but if he is right, the world will 
ultimately see that he is right even without his effort. One 
way or another he finds it hard to believe that this vast mass 
and force of popular thought in which he lives and moves can 
be ultimately wrong. 

Securus judical orbis terrarum. 


John Ruskin 

My good Yorkshire friends, you asked me down here among 
your hills that I might talk to you about this Exchange you 
are going to build: but earnestly and seriously asking you to 
pardon me, I am going to do nothing of the kind. I cannot 
talk, or at least can say very little, about this same Exchange. 
I must talk of quite other things, though not willingly; — 
I could not deserve your pardon, if when you invited me to 
speak on one subject, I wilfully spoke on another. But I 
cannot speak, to purpose, of anything about which I do not 
care; and most simply and sorrowfully I have to tell you, 
in the outset, that I do not care about this Exchange of yours. 

If, however, when you sent me your invitation, I had 
answered, "I won't come, I don't care about the Exchange 
of Bradford," you would have been justly offended with me, 
not knowing the reasons of so blunt a carelessness. So I 
have come down, hoping that you will patiently let me tell 
you why, on this, and many other such occasions, I now 
remain silent, when formerly I should have caught at the 
opportunity of speaking to a gracious audience. 

In a word, then, I do not care about this Exchange, — 
because you don't; and because you know perfectly well I 
cannot make you. Look at the essential conditions of the 
case, which you, as business men, know perfectly well, though 
perhaps you think I forget them. You are going to spend 
£30,000, which to you, collectively, is nothing; the buying 
a new coat is, as to the cost of it, a much more important matter 
of consideration to me than building a new Exchange is to 

1 Delivered in the Town Hall, Bradford, England. 


you. But you think you may as well have the right thing 
for your money. You know there are a great many odd 
styles of architecture about; you don't want to do anything 
ridiculous; you hear of me, among others, as a respectable 
architectural man-milliner; and you send for me, that I may 
tell you the leading fashion; and what is, in our shops, for 
the moment, the newest and sweetest thing in pinnacles. 

Now, pardon me for telling you frankly, you cannot have 
good architecture merely by asking people's advice on occa- 
sion. All good architecture is the expression of national life 
and character; and it is produced by a prevalent and eager 
national taste, or desire for beauty. And I want you to think 
a little of the deep significance of this word "taste"; for no 
statement of mine has been more earnestly or oftener con- 
troverted than that good taste is essentially a moral quality. 
"No," say many of my antagonists, "taste is one thing, 
morality is another. Tell us what is pretty: we shall be 
glad to know that; but we need no sermons even were you 
able to preach them, which may be doubted." 

Permit me, therefore, to fortify this old dogma of mine some- 
v/hat. Taste is not only a part and an index of morality — 
it is the ONLY morality. The first, and last, and closest trial 
question to any living creature is, "What do you like?" 
Tell me what you like, and I'll tell you what you are. Go 
out into the street, and ask the first man or woman you meet, 
what their "taste" is, and if they answer candidly, you know 
them, body and soul. "You, my friend in the rags, with the 
unsteady gait, what do you like?" "A pipe and a quartern 
of gin." I know you. "You, good woman, with the quick 
step and tidy bonnet, what do you like?" "A swept hearth 
and a clean tea-table, and my husband opposite me, and a 
baby at my breast." Good, I know you also. "You, little 
girl with the golden hair and the soft eyes, what do you like?" 
"My canary, and a run among the wood hyacinths." "You, 
little boy with the dirty hands and the low forehead, what 


do you like?" "A shy at the sparrows, and a game at pitch 
farthing." Good; we know them all now. What more 
need we ask? 

"Nay," perhaps you answer: "we need rather to ask what 
these people and children do, than what they like. If they 
do right, it is no matter that they like what is wrong; and if 
they do wrong, it is no matter that they like what is right. 
Doing is the great thing; and it does not matter that the man 
likes drinking, so that he does not drink; nor that the little 
girl likes to be kind to her canary, if she will not learn her 
lessons; nor that the little boy likes throwing stones at the 
sparrows, if he goes to the Sunday School." Indeed, for a 
short time, and in a provisional sense, this is true. For if, 
resolutely, people do what is right, in time they come to like 
doing it. But they only are in a right moral state when they 
have come to like doing it; and as long as they don't like it, 
they are still in a vicious state. The man is not in health 
of body who is always thinking of the bottle in the cupboard, 
though he bravely bears his thirst; but the man who heartily 
enjoys water in the morning and wine in the evening, each 
in its proper quantity and time. And the entire object of 
true education is to make people not merely do the right things, 
but enjoy the right things — not merely industrious, but to 
love industry — not merely learned, but to love knowledge 

— not merely pure, but to love purity — not merely just, 
but to hunger and thirst after justice. 

But you may answer or think, "Is the liking for outside 
ornaments, — for pictures, or statues, or furniture, or archi- 
tecture, — a moral quality?" Yes, most surely, if a rightly 
set liking. Taste for any pictures or statues is not a moral 
quality, but taste for good ones is. Only here again we have 
to define the word "good." I don't mean by "good," clever 

— or learned — or difficult in the doing. Take a picture by 
Teniers, of sots quarrelling over their dice: it is an entirely 
clever picture; so clever that nothing in its kind has ever 


been done equal to it; but it is also an entirely base and 
evil picture. It is an expression of delight in the prolonged 
contemplation of a vile thing, and delight in that is an "un- 
mannered," or "immoral" quality. It is "bad taste" in the 
profoundest sense — it is the taste of the devils. On the 
other hand, a picture of Titian's, or a Greek statue, or a 
Greek coin, or a Turner landscape, expresses delight in the 
perpetual contemplation of a good and perfect thing. That 
is an entirely moral quality — it is the taste of the angels. 
And all delight in fine art, and all love of it, resolve themselves 
into simple love of that which deserves love. That deserving 
is the quality which we call "loveliness" — (we ought to have 
an opposite word, hateliness, to be said of the things which 
deserve to be hated) ; and it is not an indifferent nor optional 
thing whether we love this or that; but it is just the vital 
function of all our being. What we like determines what we 
are, and is the sign of what we are; and to teach taste is in- 
evitably to form character. 

As I was thinking over this, in walking up Fleet Street the 
other day, my eye caught the title of a book standing open in 
a book-sisUer's window. It was — "On the necessity of the 
diffusion of taste among all classes." "Ah," I thought to 
myself, "my classifying friend, when you have diffused your 
taste, v/here will your classes be? The man who likes what 
you like, belongs to the same class with you, I think. In- 
evitably so. You may put him to other work if you choose; 
but, by the condition you have brought him into, he will 
dislike the other work as much as you would yourself. You 
get hold of a scavenger, or a costermonger, who enjoyed the 
Newgate Calendar for literature, and 'Pop goes the Weasel' 
for music. You think you can make him like Uante and 
Beethoven? I wish you joy of your lessons; but if you do, 
you have made a gentleman of him: — he won't like to go 
back to his costermongcring." 

And so completely and unexceptionally is this so, thai, if 


I had time to-night, I could show you that a nation cannot 
be affected by any vice, or weakness, without expressing it, 
legibly, and forever, either in bad art, or by want of art; 
and that there is no national virtue, small or great, which is 
not manifestly expressed in all the art which circumstances 
enable the people possessing that virtue to produce. Take, 
for instance, your great English virtue of enduring and patient 
courage. You have at present in England only one art of 
any consequence — that is, iron-working. You know thor- 
oughly well how to cast and hammer iron. Now, do you 
think in those masses of lava which you build volcanic cones 
to melt, and which you forge at the mouths of the Infernos 
you have created; do you think, on those iron plates, your 
courage and endurance are not written forever — not merely 
with an iron pen, but on iron parchment? And take also your 
great English vice — European vice — vice of all the world 
— vice of all other worlds that roll or shine in heaven, bearing 
with them yet the atmosphere of hell — the vice of jealousy, 
which brings competition into your commerce, treachery into 
your councils, and dishonor into your wars — that vice which 
has rendered for you, and for your next neighboring nation, 
the daily occupations of existence no longer possible, but 
with the mail upon your breasts and the sword loose in its 
sheath; so that at last, you have realized for all the multi- 
tudes of the two great peoples who lead the so-called civiliza- 
tion of the earth, — you have realized for them all, I say, in 
person and in policy, what was once true only of the rough 
Border riders of your Cheviot hills — 

They carved at the meal 
With gloves of steel, 
And they drank the red wine through the helmet barr'd; — 

do you think that this national shame and dastardliness of 
heart are not written as legibly on every rivet of your iron 
armor as the strength of the right hands that forged it? 


Friends, I know not whether this thing be the more ludi- 
crous or the more melancholy. It is quite unspeakably both. 
Suppose, instead of being now sent for by you, I had been 
sent for by some private gentleman, living in a surburban 
house, with his garden separated only by a fruit-wall from 
his next door neighbor's; and he had called me to consult 
with him on the furnishing of his drawing-room. I begin 
looking about me, and find the walls rather bare; I think 
such and such a paper might be desirable — perhaps a little 
fresco here and there on the ceiling — a damask curtain or so 
at the windows. "Ah," says my employer, "damask curtains, 
indeed! That's all very fine, but you know I can't afford 
that kind of thing just now!" "Yet the world credits you 
with a splendid income!" "Ah, yes," says my friend, "but 
do you know, at present, I am obliged to spend it nearly all in 
steel-traps?" "Steel-traps! for whom?" "Why, for that 
fellow on the other side the wall, you know: we're very good 
friends, capital friends; but we are obliged to keep our traps 
set on both sides of the wall; we could not possibly keep on 
friendly terms without them, and our spring guns. The 
worst of it is, we are both clever fellows enough; and there's 
never a day passes that we don't find out a new trap, or a 
new gun-barrel, or something; we spend about fifteen millions 
a year each in our traps, take it all together; and I don't see 
how we're to do with less." A highly comic state of life for 
two private gentlemen! but for two nations, it seems to me, 
not wholly comic? Bedlam would be comic, perhaps, if there 
were only one madman in it; and your Christmas pantomime 
is comic, when there is only one clown in it; but when the 
whole world turns clown, and paints itself red with its own 
heart's blood instead of vermilion, it is something else than 
comic, I think. 

Mind, I know a great deal of this is play, and willingly 
allow for that. You don't know what to do with yourselves 
for a sensation: fox-hunting and cricketing will not carry 


you through the whole of this unendurably long mortal life: 
you liked pop-guns when you were school-boys, and rifles 
and Armstrongs are only the same things better made: but 
then the worst of it is, that what was play to you when boys, 
was not play to the sparrows; and what is play to you now, 
is not play to the small birds of State neither; and for the 
black eagles, you are somewhat shy of taking shots at them, 
if I mistake not. 

I must get back to the matter in hand, however. Believe 
me, without farther instance, I could show you, in all time, 
that every nation's vice, or virtue, was written in its art: 
the soldiership of early Greece; the sensuality of late Italy; 
the visionary religion of Tuscany; the splendid human energy 
and beauty of Venice. I have no time to do this to-night 
(I have done it elsewhere before now) ; but I proceed to apply 
the principle to ourselves in a more searching manner. 

I notice that among all the new buildings which cover 
your once wild hills, churches and schools are mixed in due, 
that is to say, in large proportion, with your mills and man- 
sions; and I notice also that the churches and schools are 
almost always Gothic, and the mansions and mills are never 
Gothic. Will you allow me to ask precisely the meaning of 
this? For, remember, it is peculiarly a modern phenomenon. 
When Gothic was invented, houses were Gothic as well as 
churches; and when the Italian style superseded the Gothic, 
churches were Italian as well as houses. If there is a Gothic 
spire to the cathedral of Antwerp, there is a Gothic belfry to 
the Hotel de Ville at Brussels; if Inigo Jones builds an Italian 
Whitehall, Sir Christopher Wren builds an Italian St. Paul's. 
But now you live under one school of architecture, and wor- 
ship under another. What do you mean by doing this? Am 
I to understand that you are thinking of changing your 
architecture back to Gothic; and that you treat your churches 
experimentally, because it does not matter what mistakes 
you make in a church? Or am I to understand that you 


consider Gothic a preeminently sacred and beautiful mode 
of building, which you think, like the fine frankincense, 
should be mixed for the tabernacle only, and reserved for your 
religious services? For if this be the feeling, though it may 
seem at first as if it were graceful and reverent, at the root 
of the matter, it signifies neither more nor less than that you 
have separated your religion from your life. 

For consider what a wide significance this fact has; and 
remember that it is not you only, but all the people of Eng- 
land, who are behaving thus just now. 

You have all got into the habit of calling the church "the 
house of God." I have seen, over the doors of many churches, 
the legend actually carved, ''This is the house of God, and 
this is the gate of heaven." Now, note where that legend 
comes from, and of what place it was first spoken. A boy 
leaves his father's house to go on a long journey on foot, to 
visit his uncle; he has to cross a wild hill-desert; just as if 
one of your own boys had to cross the wolds to visit an uncle 
at Carlisle. The second or third day your boy finds himself 
somewhere between Hawes and B rough, in the midst of the 
moors, at sunset. It is stony ground, and boggy; he cannot 
go one foot farther that night. Down he lies, to sleep, on 
Wharnside, where best he may, gathering a few of the stones 
together to put under his head; — so wild the place is, he 
cannot get anything but stones. And there, lying under the 
broad night, he has a dream; and he sees a ladder set up on 
the earth, and the top of it reaches to heaven, and the angels 
of God are seen ascending and descending upon it. And when 
he wakes out of his sleep, he says, "How dreadful is this 
place; surely, this is none other than the house of God, and 
this is the gate of heaven." This place, observe; not this 
church; not this city; not this stone, even, which he puts up 
for a memorial — the piece of flint on which his head has lain. 
But this place; this windy slope of Wharnside; this moorland 
hollow, torrent-bitten, snow-blighted; this any place where 


God lets down the ladder. And how are you to know where 
that will be? or how are you to determine where it may be, 
but by being ready for it always? Do you know where the 
lightning is to fall next? You do know that, partly; you can 
guide the lightning; but you cannot guide the going forth of 
the Spirit, which is as that lightning when it shines from the 
east to the west. 

But the perpetual and insolent warping of that strong 
verse to serve a merely ecclesiastical purpose, is only one of 
the thousand instances in which we sink back into gross 
Judaism. We call our churches "temples." Now, you know 
perfectly well they are not temples. They have never had, 
never can have, anything whatever to do with temples. 
They are "synagogues" — "gathering places" — where you 
gather yourselves together as an assembly; and by not calling 
them so, you again miss the force of another mighty text — 
"Thou, when thou prayest, shalt not be as the hypocrites are; 
for they love to pray standing in the churches ^^ [we should 
translate it], "that they may be seen of men. But thou, 
when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast 
shut thy door, pray to thy Father," — which is, not in chancel 
nor in aisle, but "in secret." 

Now, you feel, as I say this to you — I know you feel — 
as if I were trying to take away the honor of your churches. 
Not so; I am trying to prove to you the honor of your houses 
and your hills; not that the Church is not sacred — but that 
the whole Earth is. I would have you feel, what careless, 
what constant, what infectious sin there is in all modes of 
thought, whereby, in calling your churches only "holy," you 
call your hearths and homes "profane"; and have separated 
yourselves from the heathen by casting all your household 
gods to the ground, instead of recognizing, in the place of 
their many and feeble Lares, the presence of your One and 
Mighty Lord and Lar. 

"But what has all this to do with our Exchange?" you 


ask me, impatiently. My dear friends, it has just every- 
thing to do with it; on these inner and great questions depend 
all the outer and little ones; and if you have asked me down 
here to speak to you, because you had before been interested 
in anything I have written, you must know that all I have 
yet said about architecture was to show this. The book I 
called "The Seven Lamps" was to show that certain right 
states of temper and moral feeling were the magic powers by 
which all good architecture, without exception, had been 
produced. "The Stones of Venice" had, from beginning 
to end, no other aim than to show that the Gothic architec- 
ture of Venice had arisen out of, and indicated in all its 
features, a state of pure national faith, and of domestic virtue; 
and that its Renaissance architecture had arisen out of, and 
in all its features indicated, a state of concealed national 
infidelity, and of domestic corruption. And now, you ask 
me what style is best to build in; and how can I answer, 
knowing the meaning of the two styles, but by another ques- 
tion — do you mean to build as Christians or as Infidels? 
And still more — do you mean to build as honest Christians 
or as honest Infidels? as thoroughly and confessedly either 
one or the other? You don't like to be asked such rude 
questions. I cannot help it; they are of much more impor- 
tance than this Exchange business; and if they can be at 
once answered, the Exchange business settles itself in a 
moment. But, before I press them farther, I must ask leave 
to explain one point clearly. 

In all my past work, my endeavor has been to show that 
good architecture is essentially religious — the production 
of a faithful and virtuous, not of an infidel and corrupted, 
people. But in the course of doing this, I have had also to 
show that good architecture is not ecclesiastical. People are 
so apt to look upon religion as the business of the clergy, not 
their own, that the moment they hear of anything depending 
on "religion," they think it must also have depended on the 


priesthood; and I have had to take what place was to be 
occupied between these two errors, and fight both, often with 
seeming contradiction. Good architecture is the work of 
good and believing men; therefore, you say, at least some 
people say, "Good architecture must essentially have been 
the work of the clergy, not of the laity." No — a thousand 
times no; good architecture ^ has always been the work of 
the commonalty, not of the clergy. What, you say, those 
glorious cathedrals — the pride of Europe — did their builders 
not form Gothic architecture? No; they corrupted Gothic 
architecture. Gothic was formed in the baron's castle, and 
the burgher's street. It was formed by the thoughts, and 
hands, and powers of free citizens and warrior kings. By 
the monk it was used' as an instrument for the aid of his 
superstition; when that superstition became a beautiful 
madness, and the best hearts of Europe vainly dreamed and 
pined in the cloister, and vainly raged and perished in the 
crusade — through that fury of perverted faith and wasted 
war, the Gothic rose also to its loveliest, most fantastic, and, 
finally, most foolish dreams; and, in those dreams, was lost. 

I hope, now, that there is no risk of your misunderstanding 
me when I come to the gist of what I want to say to-night; — 
when I repeat, that every great national architecture has 
been the result and exponent of a great national religion. 
You can't have bits of it here, bits there — you must have 
it everywhere, or nowhere. It is not the monopoly of a 
clerical company — it is not the exponent of a theological 
dogma — it is not the hieroglyphic writing of an initiated 
priesthood; it is the manly language of a people inspired by 
resolute and common purpose, and rendering resolute and 
common fidelity to the legible laws of an undoubted God. 

Now, there have as yet been three distinct schools of Euro- 
pean architecture. I say, European, because Asiatic and 

1 And all other arts, for the most part; even of incredulous and secu- 
larly-minded commonalties. 


African architectures belong so entirely to other races and 
climates, that there is no question of them here; only, in 
passing, I will simply assure you that whatever is good or 
great in Egypt, and Syria, and India, is just good or great for 
the same reasons as the buildings on our side of the Bosphorus. 
We Europeans, then, have had three great religions: the Greek, 
which was the worship of the God of Wisdom and Power; 
the Mediaeval, which was the Worship of the God of Judg- 
ment and Consolation; the Renaissance, which was the 
worship of the God of Pride and Beauty; these three we have 
had, — they are past, — and now, at last, we English have 
got a fourth religion, and a God of our own, about which I 
want to ask you. But I must explain these three old ones 

I repeat, first, the Greeks essentially worshipped the God 
of Wisdom; so that whatever contended against their religion 

— to the Jews a stumbling block — was, to the Greeks, 

— Foolishness. 

The first Greek idea of Deity was that expressed in the 
word, of which we keep the remnant in our words "Z)i-urnal" 
and "jDi-vine" — the god of Day, Jupiter the revealer. 
Athena is his daughter, but especially daughter of the Intel- 
lect, springing armed from the head. We are only with the 
help of recent investigation beginning to penetrate the depth 
of meaning couched under the Athenaic symbols: but I may 
note rapidly, that her aegis, the mantle with the serpent 
fringes, in which she often, in the best statues, is represented 
as folding up her left hand for better guard, and the Gorgon 
on her shield, are both representative mainly of the chilling 
horror and sadness (turning men to stone, as it were), of the 
outmost and superficial spheres of knowledge — that knowl- 
edge which separates, in bitterness, hardness, and sorrow, 
the heart of the full-grown man from the heart of the child. 
For out of imperfect knowledge spring terror, dissension, 
danger, and disdain; but from perfect knowledge, given by the 


full-revealed Athena, strength and peace, in sign of which she 
is crowned with the olive spray, and bears the resistless spear. 

This, then, was the Greek conception of purest Deity, and 
every habit of life, and every form of his art developed them- 
selves from the seeking this bright, serene, resistless wisdom; 
and setting himself, as a man, to do things evermore rightly 
and strongly; ^ not with any ardent affection or ultimate 
hope; but with a resolute and continent energy of will, as 
knowing that for failure there was no consolation, and for 
sin there was no remission. And the Greek architecture rose 
unerring, bright, clearly defined, and self-contained. 

Next followed in Europe the great Christian faith, which 
was essentially the religion of Comfort. Its great doctrine 
is the remission of sins; for which cause it happens, too often, 
in certain phases of Christianity, that sin and sickness them- 
selves are partly glorified, as if, the more you had to be healed 
of, the more divine was the healing. The practical result of 
this doctrine, in art, is a continual contemplation of sin and 
disease, and of imaginary states of purification from them; 
thus we have an architecture conceived in a mingled sentiment 
of melancholy and aspiration, partly severe, partly luxuriant, 
which will bend itself to every one of our needs, and every 
one of our fancies, and be strong or weak with us, as we are 
strong or weak ourselves. It is, of all architecture, the 
basest, when base people build it — of all, the noblest, when 
built by the noble. 

1 It is an error to suppose that the Greek worship, or seeking, was chiefly 
of Beauty. It was essentially of Rightness and Strength, founded on 
Forethought: the principal character of Greek art is not Beauty, but 
design: and the Dorian Apollo-worship and Athenian Virgin- worship are 
both expressions of adoration of divine Wisdom and Purity. Next to these 
great deities rank, in power over the national mind, Dionysus and Ceres, 
the givers of human strength and Ufe: then, for heroic example, Hercules. 
There is no Venus- worship among the Greeks in the great times: and the 
Muses are essentially teachers of Truth, and of its harmonies. Compare 
Aralra Pentelici, § 200. 


And now note that both these religions — Greek and 
Mediaeval — perished by falsehood in their own main pur- 
pose. The Greek religion of Wisdom perished in a false 
philosophy — "Oppositions of science, falsely so called." 
The Mediaeval religion of Consolation perished in false com- 
fort; in remission of sins given lyingly. It was the selling 
of absolution that ended the Mediaeval faith; and I can tell 
you more, it is the selling of absolution which, to the end of 
time, will mark false Christianity, Pure Christianity gives 
her remission of sins only by ending them; but false Christi- 
anity gets her remission of sins by compounding for them. 
And there are many ways of compounding for them. We 
English have beautiful little quiet ways of buying absolution, 
whether in low Church or high, far more cunning than any of 
Tetzel's trading. 

Then, thirdly, there followed the religion of Pleasure, in 
which all Europe gave itself to luxury, ending in death. First, 
bals masques in every saloon, and then guillotines in every 
square. And all these three worships issue in vast temple 
building. Your Greek worshipped Wisdom, and built you 
the Parthenon — the Virgin's temple. The Medifeval wor- 
shipped Consolation, and built you Virgin temples also — 
but to our Lady of Salvation. Then the Revivalist worshipped 
beauty, of a sort, and built you Versailles, and the Vatican. 
Now, lastly, will you tell me what we worship, and what we 

You know we are speaking always of the real, active, 
continual, national worship; that by which men act while 
they live; not that which they talk of when they die. Now, 
we have, indeed, a nominal religion, to which we pay tithes 
of property and sevenths of time; but we have also a practical 
and earnest religion, to which we devote nine-tenths of our 
property and six-sevenths of our time. And we dispute a 
great deal about the nominal rcHgion; but we are all unani- 
mous about this practical one, of which I think you will 


admit that the ruling goddess may be best generally described 
as the " Goddess of Getting-on," or " Britannia of the Market." 
The Athenians had an "Athena Agoraia," or Athena of the 
Market; but she was a subordinate type of their goddess, 
while our Britannia Agoraia is the principal type of ours. 
And all your great architectural works, are, of course, built to 
her. It is long since you built a great cathedral; and how 
you would laugh at me, if I proposed building a cathedral on 
the top of one of these hills of yours, to make it an Acropolis! 
But your railroad mounds, vaster than the walls of Babylon; 
your railroad stations, vaster than the temple of Ephesus, 
and innumerable; your chimneys how much more mighty and 
costly than cathedral spires! your harbor piers; your ware- 
houses; your exchanges! — all these are built to your great 
Goddess of "Getting-on"; and she has formed, and will 
continue to form, your architecture, as long as you worship 
her; and it is quite vain to ask me to tell you how to build to 
her; you know far better than I. 

There might indeed, on some theories, be a conceivably 
good architecture for Exchanges — that is to say, if there 
were any heroism in the fact or deed of exchange, which 
might be typically carved on the outside of your building. 
For, you know, all beautiful architecture must be adorned 
with sculpture or painting; and for sculpture or painting, 
you must have a subject. And hitherto it has been a received 
opinion among the nations of the world that the only right 
subjects for either, were heroisms of some sort. Even on his 
pots and his flagons, the Greek put a Hercules slaying lions, 
or an Apollo slaying serpents, or Bacchus slaying melancholy 
giants, and earth-born despondencies. On his temples, the 
Greek put contests of great warriors in founding states, or of 
gods with evil spirits. On his houses and temples alike, the 
Christian put carvings of angels conquering devils; or of hero- 
martyrs exchanging this world for another; subject inappro- 
priate, I think, to our direction of exchange here. And the 


Master of Christians not only left his followers without any 
orders as to the sculpture of affairs of exchange on the outside 
of buildings, but gave some strong evidence of his dislike of 
affairs of exchange within them. And yet there might surely 
be a heroism in such affairs ; and all commerce become a kind 
of selling of doves, not impious. The wonder has always 
been great to me, that heroism has never been supposed to be 
in any wise consistent with the practice of supplying people 
with food, or clothes; but rather with that of quartering one's 
self upon them for food, and stripping them of their clothes. 
Spoiling of armor is an heroic deed in all ages; but the selling 
of clothes, old or new, has never taken any color of mag- 
nanimity. Yet one does not see why feeding the hungry and 
clothing the naked should ever become base businesses, even 
when engaged in on a large scale. If one could contrive to 
attach the notion of conquest to them anyhow! so that, 
supposing there were anywhere an obstinate race, who refused 
to be comforted, one might take some pride in giving them 
compulsory comfort! ^ and as it were, "occupying a country" 
with one's gifts, instead of one's armies? If one could only 
consider it as much a victory to get a barren field sown, as to 
get an eared field stripped; and contend who should build 
villages, instead of who should ''carry" them! Are not all 
forms of heroism, conceivable in doing these serviceable deeds? 
You doubt who is strongest? It might be ascertained by push 
of spade, as well as push of sword. Who is wisest? There 
are witty things to be thought of in planning other business 
than campaigns. Who is bravest? There are always the 
elements to fight with, stronger than men; and nearly as 

The only absolutely and unapproachably heroic element in 

the soldier's work seems to be — that he is paid little for it — 

and regularly: while you traffickers, and exchangers, and 

others occupied in presumably benevolent business, like to 

1 Quite serious, all this, though it reads like jest. 


be paid much for it — and by chance. I never can make 
out how it is that a knight-erra.nt does not expect to be paid 
for his trouble, but a pedler-erra,nt always does; — that people 
are willing to take hard knocks for nothing, but never to sell 
ribands cheap; — that they are ready to go on fervent crusades 
to recover the tomb of a buried God, but never on any travels 
to fulfil the orders of a living one; — that they will go any- 
where barefoot to preach their faith, but must be well bribed 
to practise it, and are perfectly ready to give the Gospel 
gratis, but never the loaves and fishes.^ 

If you chose to take the matter up on any such soldierly 
principle, to do your commerce, and your feeding of nations, 
for fixed salaries; and to be as particular about giving people 
the best food, and the best cloth, as soldiers are about giving 
them the best gunpowder, I could carve something for you on 
your exchange worth looking at. But I can only at present 
suggest decorating its frieze with pendent purses; and making 
its pillars broad at the base, for the sticking of bills. And in 
the innermost chambers of it there might be a statue of 
Britannia of the Market, who may have, perhaps advisably, 
a partridge for her crest, typical at once of her courage in 
fighting for noble ideas, and of her interest in game; and 
round its neck the inscription in golden letters, "Perdix fovit 
quae non peperit." ^ Then, for her spear, she might have 
a weaver's beam; and on her shield, instead of St. George's 
Cross, the Milanese boar, semi-fleeced, with the town of 
Gennesaret proper, in the field, and the legend "In the best 
market," ^ and her corselet, of leather, folded over her heart 

^ Please think over this paragraph, too briefly and antithetically put, 
but one of those which I am happiest in having written. 

2 Jerem. xvii. ii (best in Septuagint and Vulgate). "As the partridge, 
fostering what she brought not forth, so he that getteth riches, not by 
right shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a 

' Meaning fully, "We have brought our pigs to it." 


in the shape of a purse, with thirty slits in it for a piece of 
money to go in at, on each day of the month. And I doubt 
not but that people would come to see your exchange, and its 
goddess, with applause. 

Nevertheless, I want to point out to you certain strange 
characters in this goddess of yours. She differs from the 
great Greek and Mediaeval deities essentially in two things — 
first, as to the continuance of her presumed power; secondly, 
as to the extent of it. 

ist, as to the Continuance. 

The Greek Goddess of Wisdom gave continual increase of 
wisdom, as the Christian Spirit of Comfort (or Comforter) 
continual increase of comfort. There was no question, with 
these, of any limit or cessation of function. But with your 
Agora Goddess, that is just the most important question. 
Getting on — but where to? Gathering together — but 
how much? Do you mean to gather always — never to 
spend? If so, I wish you joy of your goddess, for I am just 
as well off as you, without the trouble of worshipping her at 
all. But if you do not spend, somebody else will — some- 
body else must. And it is because of this (among many 
other such errors) that I have fearlessly declared your so- 
called science of Political Economy to be no science; because, 
namely, it has omitted the study of exactly the most im- 
portant branch of the business — the study of spending. 
For spend you must, and as much as you make, ultimately. 
You gather corn: — will you bury England under a heap of 
grain; or will you, when you have gathered, finally eat? 
You gather gold: — will you make your house-roofs of it, or 
pave your streets with it? That is still one way of spending 
it. But if you keep it, that you may get more, I'll give you 
more; I'll give you all the gold you want — all you can 
imagine — if you can tell me what you'll do with it. You 
shall have thousands of gold pieces; — thousands of thou- 
sands — millions — mountains, of gold : where will you keep 


them? Will you put an Olympus of silver upon a golden 
Pelion — make Ossa like a wart? Do you think the rain and 
dew would then come down to you, in the streams from such 
mountains, more blessedly than they will down the moun- 
tains which God has made for you, of moss and whinstone? 
But it is not gold that you want to gather! What is it? 
greenbacks? No; not those neither. What is it then — 
is it ciphers after a capital I? Cannot you practise writing 
ciphers, and write as many as you want? Write ciphers for 
an hour every morning, in a big book, and say every evening, 
I am worth all those noughts more than I was yesterday. 
Won't that do? Well, what in the name of Plutus is it you 
want? Not gold, not greenbacks, not ciphers after a capital 
I? You will have to answer, after all, "No; we want, some- 
how or other, money's worth.^' Well, what is that? Let your 
Goddess of Getting-on discover it, and let her learn to stay 

II. But there is yet another question to be asked respecting 
this Goddess of Getting-on. The first was of the continuance 
of her power; the second is of its extent. 

Pallas and the Madonna were supposed to be all the world's 
Pallas, and all the world's Madonna. They could teach all 
men, and they could comfort all men. But, look strictly 
into the nature of the power of your Goddess of Getting-on; 
and you will find she is the Goddess — not of everybody's 
getting on — but only of somebody's getting on. This is a 
vital, or rather deathful, distinction. Examine it in your 
own ideal of the state of national life which this Goddess is 
to evoke and maintain. I asked you what it was, when I 
was last here;^ — you have never told me. Now, shall I 
try to tell you? 

Your ideal of human life then is, I think, that it should be 
passed in a pleasant undulating world, with iron and coal 

^ The Two Paths, p. 115 (small edition), and p. 99 of vol. x. of the 
Revised Series of the Entire Works. 


everywhere underneath it. On each pleasant bank of this 
world is to be a beautiful mansion, with two wings; and 
stables, and coach-houses; a moderately sized park; a large 
garden and hot-houses; and pleasant carriage drives through 
the shrubberies. In this mansion are to live the favored 
votaries of the Goddess; the English gentleman, with his 
gracious wife, and his beautiful family; always able to have 
the boudoir and the jewels for the wife, and the beautiful 
ball dresses for the daughters, and hunters for the sons, and a 
shooting in the Highlands for himself. At the bottom of 
the bank, is to be the mill; not less than a quarter of a mile 
long, with a steam engine at each end, and two in the middle, 
and a chimney three hundred feet high. In this mill are to be 
in constant employment from eight hundred to a thousand 
workers, who never drink, never strike, always go to church 
on Sunday, and always express themselves in respectful 

Is not that, broadly, and in the main features, the kind of 
thing you propose to yourselves? It is very pretty indeed, 
seen from above; not at all so pretty, seen from below. For, 
observe, while to one family this deity is indeed the Goddess 
of Getting-on, to a thousand families she is the Goddess 
of not Getting-on. "Nay," you say, "they have all their 
chance." Yes, so has every one in a lottery, but there must 
always be the same number of blanks. "Ah! but in a lottery 
it is not skill and intelligence which take the lead, but blind 
chance." What then! do you think the old practice, that 
" they should take who have the power, and they should keep 
who can," is less iniquitous, when the power has become 
power of brains instead of fist? and that, though we may not 
take advantage of a child's or a woman's weakness, we may 
of a man's foolishness? "Nay, but finally, work must be 
done, and some one must be at the top, some one at the 
bottom." Granted, my friends. Work must always be, 
and captains of work must always be; and if you in the least 


remember the tone of any of my writings, you must know 
that they are thought unfit for this age, because they are 
always insisting on need of government, and speaking with 
scorn of Hberty. But I beg you to observe that there is a 
wide difference between being captains or governors of work, 
and taking the profits of it. It does not follow, because you 
are general of an army, that you are to take all the treasure, 
or land, it wins (if it fight for treasure or land); neither, 
because you are king of a nation, that you are to consume all 
the profits of the nation's work. Real kings, on the contrary, 
are known invariably by their doing quite the reverse of 
this, — by their taking the least possible quantity of the na- 
tion's work for themselves. There is no test of real kinghood 
so infallible as that. Does the crowned creature live simply, 
bravely, unostentatiously? probably he is a King. Does he 
cover his body with jewels, and his table with delicates? in 
all probability he is not a King. It is possible he may be, as 
Solomon was; but that is when the nation shares his splendor 
with him. Solomon made gold, not only to be in his own 
palace as stones, but to be in Jerusalem as stones. But 
even so, for the most part, these splendid kinghoods expire 
in ruin, and only the true kinghoods live, which are of royal 
laborers governing loyal laborers; who, both leading rough 
lives, establish the true dynasties. Conclusively you will 
find that because you are king of a nation, it does not follow 
that you are to gather for yourself all the wealth of that 
nation; neither, because you are king of a small part of the 
nation, and lord over the means of its maintenance — over 
field, or mill, or mine — are you to take all the produce of that 
piece of the foundation of national existence for yourself. 

You will tell me I need not preach against these things, 
for I cannot mend them. No, good friends, I cannot; but 
you can, and you will; or something else can and will. Even 
good things have no abiding power — and shall these evil 
things persist in victorious evil? All history shows, on the 


contrary, that to be the exact thing they never can do. Change 
must come; but it is ours to determine whether change of 
growth, or change of death. Shall the Parthenon be in ruins 
on its rock, and Bolton Priory in its meadow, but these mills 
of yours be the consummation of the buildings of the earth, 
and their wheels be as the wheels of eternity? Think you 
that ''men may come, and men may go," but — mills — go 
on forever? Not so; out of these, better or worse shall come; 
and it is for you to choose which. 

I know that none of this wrong is done with deliberate 
purpose. I know, on the contrary, that you wish your work- 
men well; that you do much for them, and that you desire to 
do more for them, if you saw your way to such benevolence 
safely. I know that even all this wrong and misery are 
brought about by a warped sense of duty, each of you striving 
to do his best; but unhappily, not knowing for whom this 
best should be done. And all our hearts have been betrayed 
by the plausible impiety of the modern economist, that "To 
do the best for yourself, is finally to do the best for others." 
Friends, our great Master said not so; and most absolutely 
we shall find this world is not made so. Indeed, to do the 
best for others, is finally to do the best for ourselves; but it 
will not do to have our eyes fixed on that issue. The Pagans 
had got beyond that. Hear what a Pagan says of this matter; 
hear what were, perhaps, the last written words of Plato, 
— if not the last actually written (for this we cannot know), 
yet assuredly in fact and power his parting words — in which, 
endeavoring to give full crowning and harmonious close to 
all his thoughts, and to speak the sum of them by the imagined 
sentence of the Great Spirit, his strength and his heart fail 
him, and the words cease, broken off forever. 

They are at the close of the dialogue called "Critias," in 
which he describes, partly from real tradition, partly in ideal 
dream, the early state of Athens; and the genesis, and order, 
and religion of the fabled isle of Atlantis; in which genesis 


he conceives the same first perfection and final degeneracy of 
man, which in our own Scriptural tradition is expressed by 
saying that the Sons of God intermarried with the daughters 
of men, for he supposes the earliest race to have been indeed 
the children of God; and to have corrupted themselves, until 
"their spot was not the spot of his children." And this, he 
says, was the end; that indeed "through many generations, 
so long as the God's nature in them yet was full, they were 
submissive to the sacred laws, and carried themselves lovingly 
to all that had kindred with them in divineness; for their 
uttermost spirit was faithful and true, and in every wise 
great; so that, in all meekness of wisdom, they dealt with each 
other, and took all the chances of life; and despising all things 
except virtue, they cared little what happened day by day, 
and bore lightly the burden of gold and of possessions; for 
they saw that, if only their common love and virtue increased, 
all these things would be increased together with them; but to 
set their esteem and ardent pursuit upon material possession 
would be to lose that first, and their virtue and affection 
together with it. And by such reasoning, and what of the 
divine nature remained in them, they gained all this greatness 
of which we have already told; but when the God's part of 
them faded and became extinct, being mixed again and 
again, and effaced by the prevalent mortality; and the 
human nature at last exceeded, they then became unable to 
endure the courses of fortune; and fell into shapelessness of 
life, and baseness in the sight of him who could see, having 
lost everything that was fairest of their honor; while to the 
blind hearts which could not discern the true life, tending to 
happiness, it seemed that they were then chiefly noble and 
happy, being filled with all iniquity of inordinate possession 
and power. Whereupon, the God of gods, whose Kinghood 
is in laws, beholding a once just nation thus cast into misery, 
and desiring to lay such punishment upon them as might 
make them repent into restraining, gathered together all the 


gods into his dwelling-place, which from heaven's centre 
overlooks whatever has part in creation; and having assembled 
them, he said" — 

The rest is silence. Last words of the chief wisdom of the 
heathen, spoken of this idol of riches; this idol of yours; 
this golden image high by measureless cubits, set up where 
your green fields of England are furnace-burnt into the like- 
ness of the plain of Dura: this idol, forbidden to us, first of 
all idols, by our own Master and faith; forbidden to us also 
by every human lip that has ever, in any age or people, been 
accounted of as able to speak according to the purposes of 
God. Continue to make that forbidden deity your principal 
one, and soon no more art, no more science, no more pleasure 
will be possible. Catastrophe will come ; or worse than catas- 
trophe, slow mouldering and withering into Hades. But if 
you can fix some conception of a true human state of life to 
be striven for — life good for all men as for yourselves — if 
you can determine some honest and simple order of existence; 
following those trodden ways of wisdom, which are pleasant- 
ness, and seeking her quiet and withdrawn paths, which are 
peace ^; — then, and so sanctifying wealth into "common- 
wealth," all your art, your literature, your daily labors, your 
domestic aiJection, and citizen's duty, will join and increase 
into one magnificent harmony. You will know then how to 
build, well enough; you will build with stone well, but with 
flesh better; temples not made with hands, but riveted of 
hearts; and that kind of marble, crimson-veined, is indeed 

^ I imagine the Hebrew chant merely intends passionate repetition, 
and not a distinction of this somewhat fanciful kind; yet we may profitably 
make it in reading the EngUsh. 


Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I GREET you on the recommencement of our literary year. 
Our anniversary is one of hope, and, perhaps, not enough of 
labor. We do not meet for games of strength or skill, for the 
recitation of histories, tragedies and odes, like the ancient 
Greeks; for parliaments of love and poesy, like the Trouba- 
dours; nor for the advancement of science, like our contem- 
poraries in the British and European capitals. Thus far, 
our holiday has been simply a friendly sign of the survival 
of the love of letters amongst a people too busy to give to 
letters any more. As such, it is precious as the sign of an 
indestructible instinct. Perhaps the time is already come, 
when it ought to be, and will be, something else; when the 
sluggard intellect of this continent will look from under its 
iron lids, and fill the postponed expectation of the world with 
something better than the exertions of mechanical skill. 
Our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning 
of other lands, draws to a close. The millions, that around 
us are rushing into life, cannot always be fed on the sere 
remains of foreign harvests. Events, actions arise, that 
must be sung, that will sing themselves. Who can doubt 
that poetry will revive and lead in a new age, as the star in 
the constellation Harp, which now flames in our zenith, 
astronomers announce, shall one day be the pole-star for a 
thousand years? 

In this hope I accept the topic which not only usage, but 
the nature of our association, seem to prescribe to this day, — 

1 An oralion delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, at Cambridge, 
August 31, 1837. 


the American Scholar. Year by year we come up hither 
to read one more chapter of his biography. Let us inquire 
what hght new days and events have thrown on his character 
and his hopes. 

It is one of those fables which, out of an unknown antiquity, 
convey an unlooked-for wisdom, that the gods, in the begin- 
ning, divided Man into men, that he might be more helpful 
to himself; just as the hand was divided into fingers, the 
better to answer its end. 

The old fable covers a doctrine ever new and subhme; 
that there is One Man, — present to all particular men only 
partially, or through one faculty; and that you must take the 
whole society to find the whole man. Man is not a farmer, or 
a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and 
scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier. In the 
divided or social state these functions are parceled out to indi- 
viduals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work, 
whilst each other performs his. The fable implies that the 
individual, to possess himself, must sometimes return from 
his own labor to embrace all the other laborers. But, unfor- 
tunately, this original unit, this fountain of power, has been 
so distributed to multitudes, has been so minutely sub- 
divided and peddled out, that it is spilled into drops and 
cannot be gathered. The state of society is one in which 
the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and 
strut about so many walking monsters — a good finger, a 
neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man. 

Man is thus metamorphosed into a thing, into many things. 
The planter, who is Man sent out into the field to gather 
food, is seldom cheered by any idea of the true dignity of his 
ministry. He sees his bushel and his cart, and nothing 
beyond, and sinks into the farmer, instead of Man on the 
farm. The tradesman scarcely ever gives an ideal worth 
to his work, but is ridden by the routine of his craft, and 
the soul is subject to dollars. The priest becomes a form; 


the attorney, a statute-book; the mechanic, a machine; the 
sailor, a rope of a ship. 

In this distribution of functions the scholar is the delegated 
intellect. In the right state, he is Man Thinking. In the 
degenerate state, when the victim of society, he tends to 
become a mere thinker, or, still worse, the parrot of other 
men's thinking. 

In this view of him, as Man Thinking, the theory of his 
office is contained. Him Nature solicits with all her placid, 
all her monitory pictures; him the past instructs; him the 
future invites. Is not, indeed, every man a student, and do 
not all things exist for the student's behoof? And, finally, 
is not the true scholar the only true master? But the old 
oracle said, "All things have two handles: beware of the 
wrong one." In life, too often the scholar errs with mankind 
and forfeits his privilege. Let us see him in his school, and 
consider him in reference to the main influences he receives. 

I. The first in time and the first in importance of the 
influences upon the mind is that of Nature. Every day, the 
sun; and, after sunset. Night and her stars. Ever the winds 
blow; ever the grass grows. Every day, men and women, 
conversing, beholding and beholden. The scholar is he of 
all men whom this spectacle most engages. He must settle 
its value in his mind. What is Nature to him? There is 
never a beginning, there is never an end, to the inexplicable 
continuity of this web of God, but always circular power 
returning into' itself. Therein it resembles his own spirit, 
whose beginning, whose ending, he never can find, — so 
entire, so boundless. Far, too, as her splendors shine, system 
on system shooting like rays, upward, downward, without 
centre, without circumference, — in the mass and in the par- 
ticle. Nature hastens to render account of herself to the 
mind. Classification begins. To the young mind, everything 
is individual, stands by itself. By and by it finds how to 


join two things, and see in them one nature; then three, then 
three thousand; and so tyrannized over by its own unifying 
instinct, it goes on tying things together, diminishing anom- 
alies, discovering roots running under ground, whereby con- 
trary and remote things cohere, and flower out from one 
stem. It presently learns that since the dawn of history there 
has been a constant accumulation and classifying of facts. 
But what is classification but the perceiving that these objects 
are not chaotic, and are not foreign, but have a law which 
is also a law of the human mind? The astronomer discovers 
that geometry, a pure abstraction of the human mind, is the 
measure of planetary motion. The chemist finds proportions 
and intelligible method throughout matter; and science is 
nothing but the finding of analogy, identity, in the most 
remxOte parts. The ambitious soul sits down before each re- 
fractory fact; one after another reduces all strange consti- 
tutions, all new powers, to their class and their law, and 
goes on forever to animate the last fiber of organization, the 
outskirts of nature, by insight. 

Thus to him, to this school-boy under the bending dome of 
day, is suggested that he and it proceed from one root; one 
is leaf and one is flower; relation, sympathy, stirring in every 
vein. And what is that Root? Is not that the soul of his 
soul? A thought too bold, a dream too wild. Yet when 
this spiritual light shall have revealed the law of more earthly 
natures, when he has learned to worship the soul, and to see 
that the natural philosophy that now is, is only the first 
gropings of its gigantic hand, he shall look forward to an ever- 
expanding knowledge as to a becoming creator. He shall 
see that Nature is the opposite of the soul, answering to it 
part for part. One is seal and one is print. Its beauty is 
the beauty of his own mind. Its laws are the laws of his 
own mind. Nature then becomes to him the measure of his 
attainments. So much of Nature as he is ignorant of, so much 
of his own mind does he not yet possess. And, in fine, the 


ancient precept, "Know thyself," and the modern precept, 
"Study Nature," become at last one maxim. 

II. The next great influence into the spirit of the scholar 
is the mind of the Past — in whatever form, whether of 
literature, of art, of institutions, that mind is inscribed. 
Books are the best type of the influence of the past, and 
perhaps we shall get at the truth — learn the amount of 
this influence more conveniently — by considering their value 

The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age 
received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave 
it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. 
It came into him life; it went out from him truth. It came 
to him short-lived actions; it went out from him immortal 
thoughts. It came to him business; it went from him poetry. 
It was dead fact; now it is quick thought. It can stand and 
it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now aspires. Pre- 
cisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, 
so high does it soar, so long does it sing. 

Or, I might say, it depends on how far the process had gone 
of transmuting life into truth. In proportion to the com- 
pleteness of the distillation, so will the purity and imperish- 
ableness of the product be. But none is quite perfect. As 
no air-pump can by any means make a perfect vacuum, so 
neither can any artist entirely exclude the conventional, the 
local, the perishable from his book, or write a book of pure 
thought that shall be as efiicient in all respects to a remote 
posterity, as to contemporaries, or rather to the second age. 
Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, 
each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an 
older period will not fit this. 

Yet hence arises a grave mischief. The sacredness which 
attaches to the act of creation — the act of thought — is 
transferred to the record. The poet chanting was felt to be 



a divine man: henceforth the chant is divine also. The writer 
was a just and wise spirit: henceforward it is settled, the book 
is perfect; as love of the hero corrupts into worship of his 
statue. Instantly the book becomes noxious; the guide is a 
tyrant. The sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, 
slow to open to the incursions of Reason, having once so 
opened, having once received this book, stands upon it and 
makes an outcry if it is disparaged. Colleges are built on it. 
Books are written on it by thinkers, not by Man Thinking; 
by men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set out from 
accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles. 
Meek young men grow up in libraries believing it their duty 
to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon 
have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were 
only young men in libraries when they wrote these books. 

Hence, instead of Man Thinking we have the bookworm. 
Hence, the book-learned class who value books as such; not 
as related to Nature and the human constitution, but as 
making a sort of Third Estate with the world and the soul. 
Hence, the restorers of readings, the emendators, the biblio- 
maniacs of all degrees. 

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the 
worst. What is the right use? What is the one end, which 
all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. 
I had better never see a book, than to be warped by its attrac- 
tion clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead 
of a system. The one thing in the world, of value, is the active 
soul. This every man is entitled to; this every man contains 
within him, although, in almost all men, obstructed and as 
yet unborn. The soul active sees absolute truth; and utters 
truth, or creates. In this action it is genius; not the privilege 
of here and there a favorite, but the sound estate of every 
man. In its essence it is progressive. The book, the college, 
the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some 
past utterance of genius. This is good, say they, — let us 


hold by this. They pin me down. They look backward and 
not forward. But genius looks forward; the eyes of man are 
set in his forehead, not in his hindhead; man hopes; genius 
creates. Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, 
the pure efiSux of the Deity is not his; cinders and smoke 
there may be, but not yet flame. There are creative manners, 
there are creative actions, and creative words; manners, 
actions, words, that is, indicative of no custom or authority, 
but springing spontaneous from the mind's own sense of good 
and fair. 

On the other part, instead of being its own seer, let it 
receive from another mind its truth, though it were in torrents 
of light, without periods of solitude, inquest, and self-recovery, 
and a fatal disservice is done. Genius is always sufl&ciently 
the enemy of genius by over-influence. The literature of 
every nation bears me witness. The English dramatic poets 
have Shakspearized now for two hundred years. 

Undoubtedly there is a right way of reading, so it be sternly 
subordinated. Man Thinking must not be subdued by his 
instruments. Books are for the scholar's idle times. When 
he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted 
in other men's transcripts of their readings. But when the 
intervals of darkness come, as come they must, — when the 
sun is hid, and the stars withdraw their shining, — we repair 
to the lamps which were kindled by their ray, to guide our 
steps to the East again, where the dawn is. We hear, that 
we may speak. The Arabian proverb says, "A fig-tree, look- 
ing on a fig-tree, become th fruitful." 

It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive 
from the best books. They impress us with the conviction 
that one nature wrote and the same reads. We read the 
verses of one of the great English poets, of Chaucer, of Mar- 
veil, of Dryden, with the most modern joy, — with a pleasure, 
I mean, which is in great part caused by the abstraction of 
all time from their verses. There is some awe mixed with 


the joy of our surprise when this poet, who lived in some past 
world two or three hundred years ago, says that which lies 
close to my own soul, that which I also had wellnigh thought 
and said. But for the evidence thence afforded to the philo- 
sophical doctrine of the identity of all minds, we should 
suppose some preestablished harmony, some foresight of 
souls that were to be, and some preparation of stores for 
their future wants, like the fact observed in insects, who lay 
up food before death for the young grub they shall never see. 

I would not be hurried by any love of system, by any 
exaggeration of instincts, to underrate the Book. We all 
know that as the human body can be nourished on any food, 
though it were boiled grass and the broth of shoes, so the 
human mind can be fed by any knowledge. And great and 
heroic men have existed who had almost no other information 
than by the printed page. I only would say, that it needs a 
strong head to bear that diet. One must be an inventor to 
read well. As the proverb says, "He that would bring home 
the wealth of the Indies, must carry out the wealth of the 
Indies." There is then creative reading as well as creative 
writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, 
the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with 
manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and 
the sense of our author is as broad as the world. We then 
see, what is always true, that, as the seer's hour of vision is 
short and rare among heavy days and months, so is its record, 
perchance, the least part of his volume. The discerning will 
read, in his Plato or Shakspeare, only that least part, — only 
the authentic utterances of the oracle; all the rest he rejects, 
were it never so many times Plato's and Shakspeare's. 

Of course, there is a portion of reading quite indispensable 
to a wise man. History and exact science he must learn by 
laborious reading. Colleges, in like manner, have their 
indispensable office, — to teach elements. But they can only 
highly serve us when they aim not to drill, but to create; 


when they gather from far every ray of various genius to 
their hospitable halls, and, by the concentrated fires, set the 
hearts of their youth on flame. Thought and knowledge are 
natures in which apparatus and pretension avail nothing. 
Gowns, and pecuniary foundations, though of towns of gold, 
can never countervail the least sentence or syllable of wit. 
Forget this, and our American colleges will recede in their 
public importance, whilst they grow richer every year. 

III. There goes in the world a notion that the scholar 
should be a recluse, a valetudinarian, — as unfit for any 
handiwork or public labor, as a pen-knife for an axe. The 
so-called "practical men" sneer at speculative men, as if, 
because they speculate or see, they could do nothing. I have 
heard it said that the clergy — who are always, more univer- 
sally than any other class, the scholars of their day — are 
addressed as women; that the rough, spontaneous conversa- 
tion of men they do not hear, but only a mincing and diluted 
speech. They are often virtually disfranchised; and, indeed, 
there are advocates for their celibacy. As far as this is true 
of the studious classes, it is not just and wise. Action is 
with the scholar subordinate, but it is essential. Without it, 
he is not yet man. Without it, thought can never ripen into 
truth. Whilst the world hangs before the eye as a cloud of 
beauty, we cannot even see its beauty. Inaction is cowardice, 
but there can be no scholar without the heroic mind. The 
preamble of thought, the transition through which it passes 
from the unconscious to the conscious, is action. Only so 
much do I know, as I have lived. Instantly we know whose 
words are loaded with life, and whose not. 

The world — this shadow of the soul, or other me — lies 
wide around. Its attractions are the keys which unlock my 
thoughts and make me acquainted with myself. I run 
eagerly into this resounding tumult. I grasp the hands of 
those next me, and take my place in the ring to suffer and to 


work, taught by an instinct, that so shall the dumb abyss be 
vocal with speech. I pierce its order; I dissipate its fear; I 
dispose of it within the circuit of my expanding life. So 
much only of life as I know by experience, so much of the 
wilderness have I vanquished and planted, or so far have 
I extended my being, my dominion. I do not see how any 
man can afford, for the sake of his nerves and his nap, 
to spare any action in which he can partake. It is pearls 
and rubies to his discourse. Drudgery, calamity, exaspera- 
tion, want, are instructors in eloquence and wisdom. The 
true scholar grudges every opportunity of action passed by, 
as a loss of power. 

It is the raw material out of which the intellect molds her 
splendid products. A strange process too, this, by which 
experience is converted into thought, as a mulberry leaf is 
converted into satin. The manufacture goes forward at all 

The actions and events of our childhood and youth are now 
matters of calmest observation. They lie like fair pictures in 
the air. Not so with our recent actions, — with the business 
which we now have in hand. On this we are quite unable to 
speculate. Our affections as yet circulate through it. We 
no more feel or know it, than we feel the feet, or the hand, 
or the brain of our body. The new deed is yet a part of 
life, — remains for a time immersed in our unconscious life. 
In some contemplative hour it detaches itself from the life 
like a ripe fruit, to become a thought of the mind. Instantly 
it is raised, transfigured; the corruptible has put on incorrup- 
tion. Henceforth it is an object of beauty, however base its 
origin and neighborhood. Observe, too, the impossibility of 
antedating this act. In its grub state, it cannot fly, it cannot 
shine, it is a dull grub. But suddenly, without observation, 
the selfsame thing unfurls beautiful wings, and is an angel of 
wisdom. So is there no fact, no event, in our private history 
which shall not, sooner or later, lose its adhesive, inert form, 


and astonish us by soaring from our body into the empyrean. 
Cradle and infancy, school and playground, the fear of boys, 
and dogs, and ferules, the love of little maids and berries, and 
many another fact that once filled the whole sky, are gone 
already; friend and relative, profession and party, town and 
country, nation and world, must also soar and sing. 

Of course, he who has put forth his total strength in fit 
actions has the richest return of wisdom. I will not shut 
myself out of this globe of action, and transplant an oak into 
a flower-pot, there to hunger and pine; nor trust the revenue 
of some single faculty, and exhaust one vein of thought, 
much like those Savoyards, who, getting their livelihood by 
carving shepherds, shepherdesses, and smoking Dutchmen 
for all Europe, went out one day to the mountain to find stock, 
and discovered that they had whittled up the last of their 
pine-trees. Authors we have in numbers who have written 
out their vein, and who, moved by a commendable prudence, 
sail for Greece or Palestine, follow the trapper into the prairie, 
or ramble round Algiers, to replenish their merchantable 

If it were only for a vocabulary, the scholar would be covet- 
ous of action. Life is our dictionary. Years are well spent 
in country labors; in town, in the insight into trades and 
manufactures; in frank intercourse with many men and 
women; in science; in art, — to the one end of mastering in 
all their facts a language by which to illustrate and embody 
our perceptions. I learn immediately from any speaker how 
much he has already lived, through the poverty or the splendor 
of his speech. Life lies behind us as the quarry from whence 
we get tiles and cope-stones for the masonry of to-day. This 
is the way to learn grammar. Colleges and books only copy 
the language which the field and the work-yard made. 

But the final value of action, like that of books, and better 
than books, is, that it is a resource. That great principle of 
Undulation in nature, that shows itself in the inspiring and 


expiring of the breath; in desire and satiety; in the ebb and 
flow of the sea; in day and night; in heat and cold ; and as 
yet more deeply ingrained in every atom and every fluid, is 
known to us under the name of Polarity, — these "fits of easy 
transmission and reflection," as Newton called them, are the 
law of Nature because they are the law of spirit. 

The mind now thinks, now acts; and each fit reproduces 
the other. When the artist has exhausted his materials, when 
the fancy no longer paints, when thoughts are no longer 
apprehended, and books are a weariness, — he has always the 
resource to live. Character is higher than intellect. Think- 
ing is the function. Living is the functionary. The stream 
retreats to its source. A great soul will be strong to live, as 
well as strong to think. Does he lack organ or medium to 
impart his truths? He can still fall back on this elemental 
force of living them. This is a total act. Thin king is a 
partial act. Let the grandeur of justice shine in his affairs. 
Let the beauty of affection cheer his lowly roof. Those "far 
from fame," who dwell and act with him, will feel the force 
of his constitution in the doings and passages of the day 
better than it can be measured by any public and designed 
display. Time shall teach him that the scholar loses no hour 
which the man lives. Herein he unfolds the sacred germ of 
his instinct, screened from influence. What is lost in seemli- 
ness is gained in strength. Not out of those, on whom sys- 
tems of education have exhausted their culture, comes the 
helpful giant to destroy the old or to build the new, but out of 
unhandselled savage nature, out of terrible Druids and ber- 
serkirs, come at last Alfred and Shakspeare. 

I hear, therefore, with joy whatever is beginning to be said 
of the dignity and necessity of labor to every citizen. There 
is virtue yet in the hoe and the spade, for learned as well 
as for unlearned hands. And labor is everywhere welcome; 
always we are invited to work; only be this limitation ob- 
served, that a man shall not for the sake of wider activity 


sacrifice any opinion to the popular judgments and modes of 

I have now spoken of the education of the scholar by 
Nature, by books, and by action. It remains to say somewhat 
of his duties. 

They are such as become Man Thinking. They may all 
be comprised in self-trust. The office of the scholar is to 
cheer, to raise, and to guide men by showing them facts amidst 
appearances. He plies the slow, unhonored, and unpaid 
task of observation. Flamsteed and Herschel, in their 
glazed observatories, may catalogue the stars with the praise 
of all men, and, the results being splendid and useful, honor 
is sure. But he, in his private observatory, cataloguing 
obscure and nebulous stars of the human mind, which as yet 
no man has thought of as such, — watching days and months, 
sometimes, for a few facts; correcting still his old records, — 
must relinquish display and immediate fame. In the long 
period of his preparation he must betray often an ignorance 
and shiftlessness in popular arts, incurring the disdain of the 
able, who shoulder him aside. Long he must stammer in 
his speech; often forego the living for the dead. Worse yet, 
he must accept — how often! — poverty and solitude. For 
the ease and pleasure of treading the old road, accepting the 
fashions, the education, the religion of society, he takes the 
cross of making his own, and, of course, the self-accusation, 
the faint heart, the frequent uncertainty and loss of time, which 
are the nettles and tangling vines in the way of the self- 
relying and self-directed; and the state of virtual hostility in 
which he seems to stand to society, and especially to educated 
society. For all this loss and scorn, what off-set? He is to 
find consolation in exercising the highest functions of human 
nature. He is one who raises himself from private considera- 
tions, and breathes and lives on public and illustrious thoughts. 
He is the world's eye. He is the world's heart. He is to resist 


the vulgar prosperity that retrogrades ever to barbarism, by 
preserving and communicating heroic sentiments, noble 
biographies, melodious verse, and the conclusions of history. 
Whatsoever oracles the human heart, in all emergencies, in 
all solemn hours, has uttered as its commentary on the world 
of actions, — these he shall receive and impart. And whatso- 
ever new verdict Reason from her inviolable seat pronounces 
on the passing men and events of to-day, — this he shall 
hear and promulgate. 

These being his functions, it becomes him to feel all confi- 
dence in himself, and to defer never to the popular cry. He 
and he only knows the world. The world of any moment 
is the merest appearance. Some great decorum, some fetish 
of a government, some ephemeral trade, or war, or man, is 
cried up by half mankind and cried down by the other half, 
as if all depended on this particular up or down. The odds 
are that the whole question is not worth the poorest thought 
which the scholar has lost in listening to the controversy. 
Let him not quit his belief that a popgun is a popgun, though 
the ancient and honorable of the earth afhrm it to be the 
crack of doom. In silence, in steadiness, in severe abstrac- 
tion, let him hold by himself; add observation to observation, 
patient of neglect, patient of reproach; and bide his own 
time, — happy enough if he can satisfy himself alone, that 
this day he has seen something truly. Success treads on 
every right step. For the instinct is sure that prompts him 
to tell his brother what he thinks. He then learns that in 
going down into the secrets of his own mind he has de- 
scended into the secrets of all minds. He learns that he 
who has mastered any law in his private thoughts is 
master to that extent of all men whose language he speaks, 
and of all into whose language his own can be translated. 
The poet, in utter solitude remembering his spontaneous 
thoughts and recording them, is found to have recorded 
that which men in crowded cities find true for them also. 


The orator distrusts at first the fitness of his frank confes- 
sions, — his want of knowledge of the persons he addresses, 
— until he finds that he is the complement of his hearers; 
that they drink his words because he fulfils for them their 
own nature; the deeper he dives into his privatest, secret- 
est presentiment, to his wonder he finds this is the most 
acceptable, most public, and universally true. The people 
delight in it; the better part of every man feels. This is my 
music; this is myself. 

In self-trust all the virtues are comprehended. Free should 
the scholar be, — free and brave. Free even to the definition 
of freedom, "without any hindrance that does not arise out 
of his own constitution." Brave; for fear is a thing which a 
scholar by his very function puts behind him. Fear always 
springs from ignorance. It is a shame to him if his tran- 
quillity, amid dangerous times, arise from the presumption 
that, like children and women, his is a protected class; or if 
he seek a temporary peace by the diversion of his thoughts 
from pontics or vexed questions, hiding his head like an 
ostrich in the flowering bushes, peeping into microscopes, and 
turning rhymes, as a boy whistles to keep his courage up. 
So is the danger a danger still; so is the fear worse. Manlike 
let him turn and face it. Let him look into its eye and search 
its nature, inspect its origin, — see the whelping of this lion, 
which lies no great way back; he will then find in himself a 
perfect comprehension of its nature and extent; he will have 
made his hands meet on the other side, and can henceforth 
defy it, and pass on superior. The world is his, who can see 
through its pretension. What deafness, what stone-blind 
custom, what overgrown error you behold, is there only by 
sufferance, — by your sufferance. See it to be a lie, and 
you have already dealt it its mortal blow. 

Yes, we are the cowed — we the trustless. It is a mis- 
chievous notion that we are come late into Nature; that the 
world was finished a long time ago. As the world was plastic 


and fluid in the hands of God, so it is ever to so much of his 
attributes as we bring to it. To ignorance and sin, it is flint. 
They adapt themselves to it as they may; but in proportion 
as a man has anything in him divine, the firmament flows 
before him and takes his signet and form. Not he is great who 
can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind. 
They are the kings of the world who give the color of their 
present thought to all nature and all art, and persuade men 
by the cheerful serenity of their carrying the matter, that 
this thing which they do is the apple which the ages have 
desired to pluck, now at last ripe, and inviting nations to the 
harvest. The great man makes the great thing. Wherever 
Macdonald sits, there is the head of the table. Linnaeus 
makes botany the most alluring of studies, and wins it from 
the farmer and the herb-woman; Davy, chemistry; and 
Cuvier, fossils. The day is always his, who works in it with 
serenity and great aims. The unstable estimates of men 
crowd to him whose mind is filled with a truth, as the heaped 
waves of the Atlantic follow the moon. 

For this self-trust, the reason is deeper than can be fathomed, 
darker than can be enlightened. I might not carry with me 
the feeling of my audience in stating my own belief. But I 
have already shown the ground of my hope, in adverting to 
the doctrine that man is one. I believe man has been wronged; 
he has wronged himself. He has almost lost the light that 
can lead him back to his prerogatives. Men are become of 
no account. Men in history, men in the world of to-day are 
bugs, are spawn, and are called "the mass" and "the herd." 
In a century, in a millennium, one or two men; that is to say, 
one or two approximations to the right state of every man. 
All the rest behold in the hero or the poet their own green 
and crude being, — ripened; yes, and are content to be less, 
so that may attain to its full stature. What a testimony, full 
of grandeur, full of pity, is borne to the demands of his own 
nature by the poor clansman, the poor partisan, who rejoices 


in the glory of his chief. The poor and the low find some 
amends to their immense moral capacity for their acquiescence 
in a political and social inferiority. They are content to be 
brushed like flies from the path of a great person, so that 
justice shall be done by him to that common nature which it 
is the dearest desire of all to see enlarged and glorified. They 
sun themselves in the great man's light, and feel it to be their 
own element. They cast the dignity of man from their 
downtrod selves upon the shoulders of a hero, and will perish 
to add one drop of blood to make that great heart beat, those 
giant sinews combat and conquer. He lives for us, and we 
live in him. 

Men such as they are, very naturally seek money or power; 
and power because it is as good as money, — the "spoils," so 
called, "of office." And why not? for they aspire to the 
highest, and this, in their sleep-walking, they dream is highest. 
Wake them, and they shall quit the false good, and leap to 
the true, and leave governments to clerks and desks. This 
revolution is to be wrought by the gradual domestication of 
the idea of Culture. The main enterprise of the world for 
splendor, for extent, is the upbuilding of a man. Here are 
the materials strewn along the ground. The private life of 
one man shall be a more illustrious monarchy, — more formi- 
dable to its enemy, more sweet and serene in its influence to 
its friend, than any kingdom in history. For a man, rightly 
viewed, comprehendeth the particular natures of all men. 
Each philosopher, each bard, each actor, has only done for 
me, as by a delegate, what one day I can do for myself. The 
books which once we valued more than the apple of the eye, 
we have quite exhausted. What is that but saying that we 
have come up with the point of view which the universal 
mind took through the eyes of one scribe; we have been 
that man, and have passed on. First one, then another, we 
drain all cisterns, and, waxing greater by all these supplies, 
we crave a better and more abundant food. The man has 


never lived that can feed us ever. The human mind cannot 
be enshrined in a person who shall set a barrier on any one side 
to this unbounded, unboundable empire. It is one central 
fire, which, flaming now out of the lips of Etna, lightens the 
capes of Sicily; and now out of the throat of Vesuvius, illu- 
minates the towers and vineyards of Naples. It is one light 
which beams out of a thousand stars. It is one soul which 
animates all men. 

But I have dwelt perhaps tediously upon this abstraction 
of the Scholar. I ought not to delay longer to add what I 
have to say of nearer reference to the time and to this country. 

Historically there is thought to be a difference in the ideas 
which predominate over successive epochs, and there are 
data for marking the genius of the Classic, of the Romantic, 
and now of the Reflective or Philosophical age. With the 
views I have intimated of the oneness or the identity of the 
mind through all individuals, I do not much dwell on these 
differences. In fact, I believe each individual passes through 
all three. The boy is a Greek ; the youth, romantic; the adult, 
reflective. I deny not, however, that a revolution in the 
leading idea may be distinctly enough traced. 

Our age is bewailed as the age of Introversion. Must that 
needs be evil? We, it seems, are critical; we are embarrassed 
with second thoughts; we cannot enjoy anything for hanker- 
ing to know whereof the pleasure consists; we are lined with 
eyes; we see with our feet; the time is infected with Hamlet's 
unhappiness, — 

Sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought. 

Is it so bad then? Sight is the last thing to be pitied. Would 
we be blind? Do we fear lest we should outsee Nature and 
God, and drink truth dry? I look upon the discontent of 
the literary class as a mere announcement of the fact that 
they find themselves n'ot in the state of mind of their fathers. 


and regret the coming state as untried; as a boy dreads the 
water before he has learned that he can swim. If there is 
any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age of 
Revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side, 
and admit of being compared; when the energies of all men 
are searched by fear and by hope; when the historic glories 
of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the 
new era? This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we 
but know what to do with it. 

I read with joy some of the auspicious signs of the 
coming days, as they glimmer already through poetry and 
art, through philosophy and science, through church and 

One of these signs is the fact that the same movement 
which affected the elevation of what was called the lowest 
class in the state, assumed in literature a very marked and as 
benign an aspect. Instead of the sublime and beautiful, 
the near, the low, the common, was explored and poetized. 
That which had been negligently trodden under foot by 
those who were harnessing and provisioning themselves for 
long journeys into far countries, is suddenly found to be 
richer than all foreign parts. The literature of the poor, the 
feelings of the child, the philosophy of the street, the meaning 
of household life, are the topics of the time. It is a great 
stride. It is a sign, is it not? of new vigor, when the ex- 
tremities are made active, when currents of warm life run 
into the hands and the feet. I ask not for the great, the 
remote, the romantic; what is doing in Italy or Arabia; 
what is Greek art or Provencal minstrelsy; I embrace the 
common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low. 
Give me insight into to-day, and you may have the antique 
and future worlds. What would we really know the meaning 
of? The meal in the firkin, the milk in the pan, the ballad 
in the street, the news of the boat, the glance of the eye, the 
form and the gait of the body, — show me the ultimate 


reason of these matters; show me the sublime presence of 
the highest spiritual cause lurking, as always it does lurk, in 
these suburbs and extremities of nature; let me see every 
trifle bristling with the polarity that ranges it instantly on an 
eternal law; and the shop, the plough, and the ledger, referred 
to the like cause by which light undulates and poets sing; — 
and the world lies no longer a dull miscellany and lumber- 
room, but has form and order; there is no trifle, there is no 
puzzle, but one design unites and animates the farthest pinna- 
cle and the lowest trench. 

This idea has inspired the genius of Goldsmith, Burns, 
Cowper, and, in a newer time, of Goethe, Wordsworth, and 
Carlyle. This idea they have differently followed and with 
various success. In contrast with their writing, the style of 
Pope, of Johnson, of Gibbon, looks cold and pedantic. This 
writing is blood-warm. Man is surprised to find that things 
near are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote. 
The near explains the far. The drop is a small ocean. A 
man is related to all nature. This perception of the worth of 
the vulgar is fruitful in discoveries. Goethe, in this very 
thing the most modern of the moderns, has shown us, as none 
ever did, the genius of the ancients. 

There is one man of genius who has done much for this 
philosophy of life, whose literary value has never yet been 
rightly estimated; I mean Emanuel Swedenborg. The most 
imaginative of men, yet writing with the precision of a mathe- 
matician, he endeavored to engraft a purely philosophical 
Ethics on the popular Christianity of his time. Such an 
attempt, of course, must have difficulty which no genius 
could surmount. But he saw and showed the connection 
between nature and the affections of the soul. He pierced 
the emblematic or spiritual character of the visible, audible, 
tangible world. Especially did his shade-loving muse hover 
over and interpret the lower parts of nature; he showed the 
mysterious bond that allies moral evil to the foul material 


forms, and has given in epical parables a theory of insanity, of 
beasts, of unclean and fearful things. 

Another sign of our times, also marked by an analogous 
political movement, is the new importance given to the single 
person. Everything that tends to insulate the individual — 
to surround him with barriers of natural respect, so that each 
man shall feel the world is his and man shall treat with man as 
a sovereign state with a sovereign state — tends to true union 
as well as greatness. "I learned," said the melancholy 
Pestalozzi, "that no man in God's wide earth is either willing 
or able to help any other man." Help must come from the 
bosom alone. The scholar is that man who must take up 
into himself all the ability of the time, all the contributions 
of the past, all the hopes of the future. He must be a uni- 
versity of knowledges. If there be one lesson more than 
another which should pierce his ear, it is, The world is nothing, 
the man is all; in yourself is the law of all nature, and you 
know not yet how a globule of sap ascends; in yourself slum- 
bers the whole of Reason; it is for you to know all, it is for 
you to dare all. Mr. President and Gentlemen, this confi- 
dence in the unsearched might of man belongs, by all motives, 
by all prophecy, by all preparation, to the American Scholar. 
We have listened too long to the courtly muses of Europe. 
The spirit of the American freeman is already suspected to be 
timid, imitative, tame. Public and private avarice make 
the air we breathe thick and fat. The scholar is decent, 
indolent, complaisant. See already the tragic consequence. 
The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats 
upon itself. There is no work for any but the decorous and 
the complaisant. Young men of the fairest promise, who 
begin life upon our shores, inflated by the mountain winds, 
shined upon by all the stars of God, find the earth below not 
in unison with these, but are hindered from action by the 
disgust which the principles on which business is managed 
inspire, and turn drudges or die of disgust — some of them 


suicides. What is the remedy? They did not yet see, and 
thousands of young men as hopeful now crowding to the 
barriers for the career do not yet see, that if the single man 
plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, 
the huge world will come round to him. Patience, patience; 
with the shades of all the good and great for company; and for 
solace, the perspective of your own infinite life; and for work, 
the study and the communication of principles, the making 
those instincts prevalent, the conversion of the world. Is it 
not the chief disgrace in the world not to be an unit, not to 
be reckoned one character — not to yield that peculiar fruit 
which each man was created to bear, but to be reckoned in 
the gross, in the hundred, or the thousand, of the party, 
the section, to which we belong; and our opinion predicted 
geographically, as the north, or the south? Not so, brothers 
and friends — please God, ours shall not be so. We will 
walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; 
we will speak our own minds. The study of letters shall be 
no longer a name for pity, for doubt and for sensual indulgence. 
The dread of man and the love of man shall be a wall of 
defence and a wreath of joy around all. A nation of men 
will for the first time exist, because each believes himself 
inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men. 



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Flickinger's Civil Government 1.00 

Traces the growth of civil liberty in England, and the development of 
government in the States and in the United States. An historical and ana- 
lytic study of civil institutions. 

Gide's History of Economic Doctrines 3.00 

The scope of the work includes the period from the time of the physiocrats 
to the present day. Especial prominence is given to the development of 
economic doctrine during the past twenty years. 

Gide's Political Economy 3.00 

The authorized translation from the third edition (1913) of the Cours 
d' Economic Politique. The method keeps clearly in view the human element, 
which is at once the main difficulty and the main interest of the subject. 

Gide's Principles of Political Economy 2.00 

The authorized translation of Principes d' Economie Politique, adapted to 
the use of American students by the addition of American illustrative mate- 
rial, by Prof. C. W. A. Veditz. 

Henderson's Introduction to the Study of Dependent, Defective, 

and Delinquent Classes 1.50 

Adapted for use as a text-book, for personal study, and for clubs of men 
and women engaged in considering some of the gravest problems of society. 

Johnson's Introduction to Political Economy 1.50 

An introductory course that deals in the clearest and most direct manner 
with the fundamental facts and principles on which the study of economics is 

Lawrence's Documents Illustrative of International Law 2.00 

Eighty-seven important documents upon the development of International 
Law, the laws of peace, the laws of war, and the laws of neutrality. 

Lawrence's Principles of International Law 3.00 

Embodies the latest results of discussion and research, and traces the 
development of International Law in such a way as to show its relation to a 
few great ethical principles as well as its dependence upon the facts of history. 

Wilson's The State 2.00 

Elements of historical and practical politics, A text-book on the organiza- 
tion and functions of government. 

Sent by mail, postpaid, on receipt of price 
D. C. HEATH & CO., Publishers, Boston, New York, Chicago 

This book is DUE on the last date stamped below 

3 1933 


ucT 2 9 m^ 




JUN Z ^ i^^ 
OCT 1 5 1946 
AN 10 1947 

MAY 2 4 1955 

Form L-9-10)n-2,'31 


B68e Essays for 


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APr73 ^^^^ 


3 1158 00780 7190 

A A 000 299 590 o